DRALA: (Tibetan: “dra”, enemy or opponent; “la”, above): “beyond the enemy”. “Unconditioned wisdom and power of the world that are beyond any dualism, therefore Drala is above any enemy or conflict. It is wisdom beyond aggression. It is the self existing wisdom and power of the cosmic mirror that are reflected both in us and in our world of perception.” “One of the key points in discovering drala principle is realizing that your own wisdom as a human being is not separate from the power of things as they are… reflections of the unconditional wisdom of the cosmic mirror. … When you can experience those two things together…then you have access to tremendous vision and power in the world…connected to your own vision, your own being. We actually perceive reality. Any perception can connect us to reality properly and fully.” — Shambala, The Path Of The Warrior (pg 103)
“Tomorrow morning,” he decided, “I’ll begin clearing away the sand of fifty thousand centuries for my first vegetable garden. That’s the initial step.”
—The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich, P.K. Dick
WHAT IS THE EXEGESIS?
The term “exegesis” is most commonly used to describe a thorough interpretation of a biblical text, often based either on its historical context and language or on the revelation of its hidden meanings. Dick’s use of the term implies that he considered his experiences themselves to be a form of scripture, a story to be revealed, explored, and understood. Moreover, his exploration of those experiences is itself a form of continuous revelation, with no clear line between experience and interpretation. But since the experience is ongoing, the Exegesis itself becomes a key part of the narrative. In the Exegesis, Dick is telling a story to himself, and exploring the meaning of that story, in ever-expanding circles of narrative and interpretation.
–Exegesis of PK Dick
I had decided the best term for what I am compiling was ‘existential exegesis.’ I googled the phrase and the only thing that came up that seemed related was from the diaries of the science fiction writer P.K. Dick. The above is a quote from those diaries, and defines what I mean by this term better than I could have.
My sufi teacher was fond of saying, ‘Sufism is based on experiences, not premises.’ But what most of us understand as ‘experience’ is something thoroughly dualistic that amounts to ‘me’ experiencing something or someone ‘out there.’ How then to explain experiences that amount to a fundamental existential reordering of what we know as ‘reality’?
I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love; you may give it any name you like. Love says “I am everything”. Wisdom says “I am nothing”. Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both. (269) –Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
An experience as described above can sound ‘mystical,’ but what if it was simply a first-person description of reality from the point of view of a higher dimension? If you google ‘Clifford Torus’ you’ll seem an attempt to visualize a mathematical description of just such a higher dimension. If we think of space and time together as constituting the fourth dimension, then you might view the Clifford Torus as representing the fifth dimension. Imagine a soccer ball that is deflated on one side. Now picture yourself in the middle of the inflated side, walking in what seems a straight line. However, as space is curved, you’ll reach an apex of 4-dimensional space/time, and then begin a descent into the curved section of the soccer ball. What’s really happening at this point, as the Clifford Torus jif demonstrates, is an enfolding of 4 dimensional space time within a fifth dimension; what was external in 4D space/time has now become internal to fifth dimensional space/time. This means as you pass through your point of origin it will pass through you, as opposed to you passing through it—that is, it will be interior to you (as, in a sense, a plane is interior to a cube), which is what is meant in the above passage about being an inner witness of the thing, or being both the subject and object of experience.
Fifth dimensional consciousness can be thought of as ‘field consciousness.’ In 4D space/time the ‘self’ seems a discrete entity occupying a discrete location at a discrete moment in a spectrum of time. In the fifth dimension the self is experienced as a relatively stable and enduring pattern of a larger field—something like a vortex in a river where, as the whole of the river is pouring into and emptying out of the vortex moment by moment, the ‘field’ of the river is the primary reality and the vortex secondary. In the fifth dimension, all aspects of ‘the river’ are experienced as internal to that field, which deconstructs the subject/object bifurcation intrinsic to 4D space/time. While it can be imagined mathematically, it cannot be, in an experiential sense, reached through any type of logical premise. Grasping the mathematics of 5D space/time is an entirely different sort of endeavor than experiencing and then actualizing 5D space/time.
The Clifford Torus is seen as a mathematical description of the topography of fifth dimensional space, yet if you try to describe the experience of fifth dimensional space you’ll be labeled, not a mathematician, but a mystic.
Even so, you may comment, how is this relevant to me? Imagine you are a two dimensional creature crawling along a rope and you come to a knot. As a two dimensional creature, this is the end of the line as, within two dimensional space there is no way around this particular Gordian knot; which means we may encounter problems whose solution lie only in higher dimensions. And, in fact, I would suggest that as evolution in fourth dimensional space/time has run into just such a Gordian knot, if we are to have a future it will involve transcending the thinking or worldspace of the fourth dimension…
Your interest in others is egoistic, self-concerned, self-oriented. You are not interested in others as persons, but only as far as they enrich, or enoble your own image of yourself. And the ultimate in selfishness is to care only for the protection, preservation and multiplication of one’s own body. By body I mean all that is related to your name and shape— your family, tribe, country, race, etc. To be attached to one’s name and shape is selfishness. A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for.
Or, you may say, he is equally ‘selfish’ on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody’s welfare is his own. The feeling ‘I am the world, the world is myself’ becomes quite natural; once it is established, there is just no way of being selfish. To be selfish means to covet, to acquire, accumulate on behalf of the part against the whole. –Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Criticizing a human for being self-serving is, it seems to me, like criticizing an ape for being hairy, as being ‘self-serving’ is simply an acting out of our most fundamental fourth dimensional programming—what Bertrand Russell called ‘the edict of carbon’ or ‘chemical imperialism.’ What is chemical imperialism? It is the need for matter to assimilate other matter into itself.
Every living thing is a sort of imperialist, seeking to transform as much as possible of its environment into itself… When we compare the (present) human population of the globe with… that of former times, we see that “chemical imperialism” has been… the main end to which human intelligence has been devoted. —Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Philosophy, (New York 1960) 31-32.
This edict seems to work smashingly well right up to the point where success involves the generation of so much waste we begin to drown in it; right up to the point where it becomes obvious the gifts of nature’s giving tree we are exploiting are finite. Then, like Dr. Bowman in 2001; A Space Odyssey, we might find ourselves needing to deconstruct the dimensional programming that got us thus far, as it now seems a threat to our continued voyage. In this view, the most significant moment in the 3 billion year old journey of organic life on
this planet is the stop sign called ‘ecology.’
This is my guess about how future generations will view our time and place, if there are future generations. To paraphrase Sri Maharaj, exploiting the outside for benefit of the inside has a different character for someone to whom the outside is the inside.
What follows is an account of my experiences of higher dimensions, and my attempt to ground such experiences in the language of western philosophy and science. As the non-dual nature of this experience is a common part of eastern, but not western religions, it requires some translation.
What I’ll try to show is that while duality is an intrinsic property of what might be called ‘lower’ dimensions, non-duality is an intrinsic property of higher dimensions. We must be careful here though not to fall into a trap common to western philosophy that makes invidious, dualistic comparisons.
…Platonism…is defined by the belief that existence is structured in terms of oppositions (separate substances or forms) and that the oppositions are hierarchical, with one side of the opposition being more valuable than the other…the hierarchies between the invisible…and the visible; between essence and appearance; between body and soul (and) good and evil. –Derrida, Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy
Hierarchical notions, such as between essence and appearance, overlook the fact that what we call ‘appearance’ is our only avenue for knowing ‘essence.’ And, as regards the experience of essence, the depth of the non-dual experience implies, to me, something denied by Buddhists—a thetic content.
Know that we were not created in jest or at random, but marvelously made for some great end. –Al Ghazzali
What I call a ‘thetic content’ is indistinguishable from aesthetics —some intuition of great beauty (the sublime)—and when the experience of beauty reaches a certain intensity you see with absolute clarity and certainty that to imagine such a possibility could come about by accident would be like believing the drips of paint on the floor beneath an artist’s easel could combine to comprise the Mona Lisa.
I…saw the structure of the universe (Logos or Plan)…I knew the true state of things…I was made into an active (Yangish) station of…change, and felt…what appeared to be–or was–possession by God…also Divine intervention (to restore harmonie)…What acted was the Immanent Mind which carries within it, me and everyone else including my total environment. That this realm exists is not an object of knowledge to our society; it used to be called The Gods, in the Greek sense, not in the Hebrew sense…our society…continues on unaware of the forces which ultimately govern… –The Exegesis of PK Dick
What I’ll try to show is that both western science and eastern religions describe a world where ‘me and everyone else including (the) total environment’ are ‘carried within…larger forces which ultimately govern,’ and that society continues on unaware of such forces. It should also be noted that for the vast majority of those in the east and in the west, these ‘larger forces’ remain a theoretical as opposed to an experiential reality.
My proposition is that mankind has reached a stage in evolution where the only way to solve our problems in the external world is to effect a transformation in the inner world, which entails a realization of both the essential unity and beauty of life.
What’s the actual identity, what’s the actual inner person, is there an inner self, is there an identity? Anybody’s identity problem is the entire universe; it’s as vast as the entire universe.
You are a puppet, but in the hands of the infinite, which may be your own.
Existence is beyond the power of words to define:
Terms may be used
But none of them absolute…
Words came out of the womb of matter…
If name be needed, wonder names (it)…
From wonder into wonder
–The Way of Life
It is dusk and I am strolling on a sidewalk awash in the florescent light of overhead streetlamps. On my right is a chainlink fence which borders a park. I pause for a moment, sensing someone behind me, I turn and glimpse a disheveled figure, who slows down just as I turn toward him. Just ahead is an opening in the fence, and I turn into the park to see if he follows me–he does. I start to jog and crane my neck to see if he is still following me–he is. I start to sprint but begin to worry, as he looks old, that he might collapse. Just as I turn to check on him, he collapses. I stop running and go back to check on him. As I kneel beside him I notice a terrible wear and tear in his exhausted face, and realize he’s dying.
Then, something extraordinary happens.
As his breath leaves his body all the lines in his face, all the terrible, craggy, grimy, exhaustion with life begins to fade as he grows younger. I now see the face of a man before the arc of tragedy claimed him—now beautiful and full of hope, he grows ever younger until, suddenly, some otherworldly light seems to gather in him and reach critical mass. Like a silent nuclear explosion this light radiates out in waves, bathing me in indescribable, otherworldly beauty and joy…
As I awaken that word wafts in the air like a movie title.
That was now forty years ago, but the feeling of that light has never left me.
I didn’t know what ‘numinous’ meant, so I looked it up. I found a definition from a German theologian named Rudolph Otto…
The numinous experience…has a personal quality, in that the person feels to be in communion with a wholly other. The numinous experience can lead in different cases to belief in deities, the supernatural, the sacred, the holy and/or the transcendent.
So, accepting the definition at face value, I took the light in the dream to be some sort of revelation of the Divine as wholly other. I now have a more sophisticated understanding of that word. Basically, the ‘noumenal’ is contrasted with ‘phenomenal.’ The phenomenal world is the world of appearances (the surface), while the noumenal is that which transpires behind that which appears (a true interior, what exists beneath the surface).
This idea of the Divine as ‘wholly other’ carried the sense of a transcendent as opposed to an immanent Divinity. Over the years though, this seemed to completely contradict the whole feel of the dream…
Christ speaks of the tiny mustard seed…and the…Bible stresses that the kingdom will enter inconspicuously—very small…lowly. Where we would least likely look for it…This realization is important…Entry from the “provinces”—Galilee…
This all presumes another, invisible, landscape at odds with the palpable one. Two realms…a lower and a higher…In the lower realm, the deity appears debased and trivial…Only at the end… does the deity unmask itself, and we see what it truly is.
…if the deity exists in the lower realm it will not bear a noble heavenly dignified aspect; it will be where least expected and as least expected…it will come to us and unveil itself to us, it could be an old sick—even dying—tomcat stinking of urine, degraded and humiliated…“Ravished away and full of God”…ecstatic comingling…
–Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick
One day while at work on a sales route I drove past such a cat—sitting in the middle of the street, stricken, sick to death, wobbling and in extremis, a picture of perfect misery. What if I stopped and picked it up and brought it to a vet? The vehicle was not my own, nor was my time; I would be late, customers would be angry…I drove on…but it represented something to me, something powerful…
We are the world. The world is the cat. We will never be whole until we face and embrace our brokenness.
And yet it was what I worked so hard to avoid, to lose in life on that scale, dying on the street, abandoned, alone in an indifferent world…And, in the race to keep ahead of total catastrophe, how many times have I made just this kind of ‘drive-by’?
The phenomenal world has its own rules and we’re not wrong to learn and honor them. But we err grievously when we treat it as the only world, for that surface world then becomes a false interior, lacking any depth, beauty or soul. Everything that really matters, anything truly deserving of the name Real, cannot be quantified.
Our idea of the ‘Good’ or ‘God’ is often conflated with the notion of a transcendent, all-powerful, all-knowing, superself that stands outside the world, pulling its strings…
The dominant theological position in the West…classical theism, denies all relativity to God… the core doctrine has been that God, to be God, must be in all respects absolute and in no respects relative. As goes the contrast between absolute and relative, so go other metaphysical contrasts. Theists traditionally held that God is in all respects creator, active, infinite, eternal, necessary, independent, immutable, and impassible and in no respects created, passive, finite, temporal, contingent, dependent, mutable, or passible… (Charles) Hartshorne complains that, on either interpretation, traditional theology is guilty of a “monopolar prejudice,” placing God…on one side of polar contrasts and the world on the other. It is monopolar insofar as deity is characterized by only one side of each pair of contrasts; it is prejudicial insofar as it holds to the invidious nature of the contrasts. As Hartshorne notes, “One pole of each contrary is regarded as more excellent than the other, so that the supremely excellent being cannot be described by the other and inferior pole”… –Process Theism, Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy
What Mr. Hartshorne calls ‘monopolar prejudice’ is, as he says, invidious as regards the world, which means it has a nihilistic aspect which many have claimed results in an arrogant attitude towards nature, the world, and its resources (I don’t think it’s simply coincidental that a rabid anti-ecological attitude is endemic among Christian fundamentalists). It can convey a sense of that ‘God’ signifies a grandiose, refined, unbesmirshed, otherworldly glory.
And all that is not that is not God.
Which is why, in the’ lower realms,’ the deity may appear in a debased and trivial guise; might be found where we would least likely look for it and, only at the end, when it unmasks itself, would we see what it truly is—ONE–which is the end of the fragmentation that is the World Wound.
Below is another passage about western, monopolar theism…
The Westerner must borrow such words as samadhi or moksha from the Hindus, or satori or kensho from the Japanese, to describe the experience of oneness with the universe. We have no appropriate word because our own Jewish and Christian theologies will not accept the idea that man’s inmost self can be identical with the Godhead, even though Christians may insist that this was true in the unique instance of Jesus Christ. Jews and Christians think of God in political and monarchical terms, as the supreme governor of the universe, the ultimate boss. Obviously, it is both socially unacceptable and logically preposterous for a particular individual to claim that he, in person, is the omnipotent and omniscient ruler of the world-to be accorded suitable
recognition and honor.
…This may sound like megalomania or delusion of grandeur-but one sees quite clearly that all existence is a single energy, and that this energy is one’s own being. Of course there is death as well as life, because energy is a pulsation, and just as waves must have both crests and troughs, the experience of existing must go on and off. Basically, therefore, there is simply nothing to worry about, because you yourself are the eternal energy of the universe playing hide-and-seek (off-and-on) with itself. At root, you are the Godhead, for God is all that there is. …We say, “I came into this world.” But we did nothing of the kind. We came out of it in just the same way that fruit comes out of trees. Our galaxy, our cosmos, “peoples” in the same way that an apple tree “apples.” Such a vision of the universe clashes with the idea of a monarchical God, with the concept of the separate ego, and even with the secular, atheist/agnostic mentality, which derives its common sense from the mythology of nineteenth-century scientist. According to this view, the universe is a mindless mechanism and man a sort of accidental microorganism infesting a minute globular rock that revolves about an unimportant star on the outer fringe of one of the minor galaxies. This “put-down” theory of man is extremely common among such quasi scientists as sociologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, most of whom are still thinking of the world in terms of Newtonian mechanics, and have never really caught up with the ideas of Einstein and Bohr, Oppenheimer and Schrodinger. …Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit–to the “conquest” of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature. The result is that we are eroding and destroying our environment…This is the major threat overhanging Western, technological culture… –Alan Watts
In a reminiscence called ‘All New People’ Anne Lamott recounts growing up in California in Marin County at a time when there was a sudden influx of people and money, causing its economic demographic skew sharply upward. As her father was a struggling writer and her mother a housewife, they began to feel out of place in the very place they considered home. They got that ‘look’ that conveyed the sense their clothes, cars and home came up short of their new neighbors social expectations. Her mother was religious and attended a nearby Christian church that was mostly black. Anne noted that she was aware of only two people in the world her mother disliked—Ronald Reagan and a drunk named John who attended the same church. Anne herself was not religious but would attend sometimes after some nudging from her mother. She went to church with her mother one Sunday and John was there, in his usual slovenly attire, drunk and wandering the aisle shouting out an occasional ‘Amen! John happened to be next to her mother at the moment of fellowship they called ‘passing the peace’ that involved eye contact and a handshake. Before her mother knew what was happening John was hugging her tight, lifting her off the ground and twirling her around before, gently, putting her back down. A few months later she learned John was in the hospital—he was dying. Surprising Anne, her mother attended a service for John where a tape was played of his music. It turned out John was an accomplished, classically trained musician.
Ravished away and full of God…
Dream#2 The World Wound
The beautiful and imperishable comes into existence due to the suffering of individual and perishable creatures who themselves are not beautiful, and must be reshaped to form a template from which the beautiful is printed (forged, extracted, converted). This is the terrible law of the universe. This is the basic law; it is a fact. Also, it is a fact that the suffering of the individual animal is so great that it arouses an ultimate abhorrence and pity in us when we are confronted by it. This is the essence of tragedy: the collision of two absolutes. Absolute suffering leads to—is the means to—absolute beauty. Neither absolute should be subordinated to the other. But this is not how it is: the suffering is subordinated to the value of the art produced. Thus the essence of horror underlies our realization of the bedrock nature of the universe. –P.K. Dick
I am in the country, following a path that winds through the rolling hills of an apple orchard. I wend my way through this bit of arcadian splendor like a leaf carried along by a gurgling brook. The aroma of ripe fruit wafts in the air. This languorous, storybook summer day feels indifferent to the march of time which, no doubt, continues on just beyond the horizon.
The unending, undulating rows of trees, with trunks painted white, come to and end just ahead, where I spy a lavish, abandoned-looking country estate, from another time and place. I approach a very large and grand front door and, with considerable effort, open it.
I’m stunned by what I encounter next. I am in some grand ballroom with what must be thirty foot ceilings. There are large windows on all the walls, covered by heavy drapes, drawn shut. I see what I imagine to be magnificent furniture everywhere, covered, as if someone had left intending to return. Given the choking mustiness of the room, that must have been many decades earlier.
To my even greater surprise, there was some sort of soiree going on. People dressed in the finery of a bygone era were conversing and dancing. I struggled to take in the incongruity between the dusky shabbiness of the room and the convivial, blithe savoir faire of the guests.
But even more incongruous was that the face of every guest was swathed in bandages, as if dressing some terrible wound. And yet, they seemed oblivious, seemed to see and move about despite heads swathed in bandages.
The first tableau seems to represents the ‘ground’ of the natural world, while the mansion, with its air of privileged opulence appears, in contrast, a musty tomb wherein the ‘guests,’ blinded by their wounds, carry on, oblivious to the grim toll entropic forces have taken on themselves and their environs.
Looking outward on the world, everything seems ‘swell,’ not because it is, but because ‘we guests’ are blinded by wounds we can’t see because we’re, well, blind, due to our wounds…and so it goes. Dreams are a way of seeing things that can’t be seen any other way…
I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know the reasons, knocking on the door,
I’ve been knocking from the inside!
Dream1 & Dream2 both relate, in different ways, to what I’d call the World Wound, and what follows is a passage from the Buddhist teacher, Joan Halifax, on this topic…
…in Ojai, the community gathered in the evening as a Zen priest conducted the final ceremony for my mother on the forty-ninth day of her journey through the Bardo, the intermediate state between life and death and rebirth.
…The journey in the Bardo of Death, according to Buddhism, is forty-nine days. During those days, I had traveled ceaselessly. My sorrow was not only for the loss of my biological mother, but also for the world. I saw the material wealth of America and its relative spiritual impoverishment. In the mountains of Nepal, I witnessed great joy in the midst of material simplicity. Meditating, fasting, living close to the Earth, walking day after day in the mountains as I worked out this sorrow, my mother’s secret body was made. It was stitched together in the steps of the journey, a journey that was a rite of passage for both her and her daughter.
The journey doesn’t end, nor do the questions. In the spring, nine months later, I fasted alone in Death Valley in eastern California asking, Which way from here? When I saw the barren landscape and walked in the rough, dusty wind to a small black cut in a wash, I thought, “This is going to be a hard one.” But strangely, I felt at home and safe in this great, old dry valley. I settled into four days of deep peace and quiet. Wind, dust, sun, rain, star-filled skies, black lava rock, hearty creosote bushes, and the delicate desert five-spot were my companions. The first dawn, a small gray lizard walked up to my morning rock and sat with me. On the third morning, a long crow flew overhead. Nine months since the death of my mother, it was time to take account.
The third evening, on seeing huge black clouds roll in from the southwest, I wrapped myself up in a tarp, feeling like a human burrito. Burrowing down deep into the sand, I counted the frequency of the rain drops. Any more drops per breath and I would have to move to avoid ending up as a bit of detritus at the bottom of the wash. This blue womb of plastic seemed a fitting place for my last night in the desert.
Late that night, I had an unusual dream: I am walking out to the end of an old pier to watch a school of little fish fleeing from some pursuer. Behind them comes a large creature that at first seems to be a shark. It is not a shark but a large, very old golden carp, something quite prehistoric. This great fish holds me in the gaze of its large brown left eye. He suddenly stops chasing the little fish and goes over to a piling that is holding up the pier. With his mouth, he grabs the piling and begins to shake the pier. I cannot take my eyes away from the eyes of the carp, and I begin to walk backwards rather quickly hoping to get off the pier before the whole thing collapses. Suddenly I begin to lose my eyesight, and at that moment I think, “That fish is not after the small fry, it’s after me!” I awaken as the pier breaks up and I sink into the water.
The past year had taught me much about yielding. I had discovered that there can only be a yield, a harvest, when one yields. The old golden fish of the depths breaks the past apart. Like the great prehistoric fish of my dream and the ocean that swallowed me, the old gold-and-black desert took me down and in. I did not resist. I reaped a harvest those four days in the desert as I accepted completely the presence of the elements. I did not have the desire to fight the sun, dust, and rain. I enjoyed the flex of the wind, the dark, rough stones, and the chill of wet nights. Fasting, I did not expend energy on grief. The losses were confirmed. Now I was just present, blue tarp and all. I needed to be full of care, keep my eyes open, and enjoy the reprieve from society that the wilderness provided. I had also come to complete, to give away, and to pray that my life from this day on would be lived worthily.
Sitting in this black volcanic rubble, I thanked my teachers, including the stones who had drawn sweat and prayer from me over the weeks of preparation when I purified in the Stone People Lodge (sweat lodge) for this time of solitude. The stones told me to quiet down, not move around so much, get still inside. “Endurance is a gift, not a trial. You’ll be like us one day—giving yourself away as dust.”
When I returned to base camp, I told my story, including the following dream, which I had on the first night back from the fast: I have entered a large hall filled with peoples from elder cultures. This is a crucial meeting about the protection of traditional ways and traditional lands. I am trying to get to my adopted father, the Lakota medicine man Grandfather Wallace Black Elk, who is sitting near the front of the room. After I enter the hall, I realize that I have to go to the toilet, and I leave the hall. When I am washing my hands, I look in the mirror and see that I have an open wound going from the corner of my right eye down my face all the way to my breastbone. I am able to look into this wound and see clearly all of the tissue structures, the blood vessels, muscles, fine ligaments, and bones. I am amazed. I had not realized that this wound was there. For a moment, I wonder who belongs to this face. Then I realize that I need to get back to the hall and see Grandfather. He is the only one who can heal this wound. On my way to the hall, I see that it is actually a doctor’s office, and I know one of the young white doctors, whom I now ask to look at the wound. He communicates with his hands and in a code language to one of his partners about my condition. As this is going on, three dark heavy Indian women come to me and lay their hands on me to heal the wound. I think, “This is not enough; I must get to Grandfather.” I then find myself outside the hall trying to get back in when three white nurses who have been sent by the doctor come to take me to surgery. I escape from them and make my way back into the hall and to Grandfather.
I am then awakened when Dana Fonte, my niece, and Sally Hinds, a student of Jungian psychology, come into the room. I tell the dream to Sally, and she say, “Joan, this sounds like a dream about the “collective wound.” This is your gift and your work.”
Later, when I told this dream in Council, I saw that each of us in our own way bears this World Wound. The World Wound is a collective wound that we suffer simply by being born. Buddhist practice and my study of shamanism have helped me see that we are one node in a vast web of life. As such, we are connected to each thing, and all things abide in us. Our psychological and physical afflictions are part of the stream of that beingness. On my second day in the desert, as I was walking in the late afternoon, I recalled the years of mental and physical sickness I have suffered. I asked myself then, Whose sickness is this anyway?
From one point of view, the suffering was my suffering. From another point of view, it was rooted in social, cultural, environmental, and psychological factors that were far beyond the local definition of who I am. My suffering is not unique but arises out of the ground of my culture. It arises out of the global culture and environment as well. I am part of the World’s Body. If part of that body is suffering, then the world suffers.
Recognizing the World Wound also turns us away from a sense of exclusiveness. If we work to heal the wound in ourselves and other beings, then this part of the body of the world is also healed. Each of us carries or has carried suffering….suffering is personal. But where is it that we end and the rest of creation begins? As part of the continuum of creation, our personal suffering is also the world’s suffering. Its causes are more complex and ramified than the local self.
Suffering can also bear the fruit of compassion, the fruit of joy. I have gone into the darkness to harvest this fruit. Understanding the nature of suffering was why I studied Buddhism, why I went into the wilds, why I worked to know the roots [causes/causal] of suffering. I also wanted to know the roots of joy [ananda], the place where we are liberated from the constraints of pain.
Going into the wound, we can see that the suffering of others is our suffering. It is not separate. We wear a common skin and have a common wound. The wound is on earth as well as in heaven. It is in us and through us. Some of us will seek healing from those who have borne the wound more deeply than we have ourselves. That is why we go to a shaman, one who has suffered more than we have.
This wound that I bore in the dream went from the eye to the heart. It seemed to be a doorway that connected seeing and feeling. First, we have to see the wound and recognize that it is both a personal wound and a World Wound. It connects us to others and opens the eyes of compassion. Looking deeply, we can also discover that the wound is a fabrication of a history of relative causes. Suffering exists. And underneath the zones of alienation, suffering does not exist.
…Our suffering is a sacrifice, but often what we suffer from can be a gift of strength, like the shaman’s wounds that becomes the source of his or her compassion.
The process of initiation can be likened to a ‘sacred catastrophe,’ a holy failure that actually extinguishes our alienation, our loneliness, and reveals our true nature, our love. That is why we seek initiation: to heal old wounds by reentering them in order to transform our suffering into compassion. The Dutch cultural historian Arnold van Gennep described the three phases of the journey as separation, transition, incorporation: the Severance, the Threshold, and the Return. The first phase, the Severance, is a time of preparation for the ordeals and tests faced in a rite of initiation. The neophyte abandons or is severed from the familiar and begins to move into seclusion. The second phase, the Threshold, has been called “the fallow chaos.” It is a time when the limits of the self are recognized and a territory is entered when the boundaries of the self are tested and broken. Incorporation means the return to society but in a new way, with a new body and a new life.
…This experience…often moves one into the wilds, where…spirits conspire to break open the husk that has protected us from a deeper truth.
It is in this place of no restraint where silence and loneliness craft the soul. And then we return…purified by…the silence of questions that can never be answered…Poet…Wendell Berry once wrote that this silence in the wilderness asks all the old questions of origins and endings. It asks us who we think we are, what we think we are doing, and where we think we are going ….The experience of silence must be basic to any religious feeling. Once it is attended to…one must bear a greater burden of consciousness, and knowledge—one must change one’s life.”
–The Fruitful Darkness, Joan Halifax
The first thing that struck me in the dream was the carp…
…It is not a shark but a large, very old golden carp, something quite prehistoric. This great fish holds me in the gaze of its large brown left eye. He suddenly stops chasing the little fish and goes over to a piling that is holding up the pier. With his mouth, he grabs the piling and begins to shake the pier. I cannot take my eyes away from the eyes of the carp, and I begin to walk backwards rather quickly hoping to get off the pier before the whole thing collapses. Suddenly I begin to lose my eyesight, and at that moment I think, “That fish is not after the small fry, it’s after me!” I awaken as the pier breaks up and I sink into the water…
This is not a predator intent on devouring prey. The dreamer is held in the ‘eye’ of some ancient creature of the deep that threatens to pull the ground out from under her. As Alan Watts stated above, we think, ‘I’ came into this world, but we did no such thing. ‘We’ are apples on a tree whose roots extend back into a vast, ancient evening, and the ‘way things are’ (reality) is always threatening to pull the rug out from under this false ‘I,’ our sense of self as a separate ego.
The second thing that struck me was how, in the ‘wound dream,’ Joan seems ambivalent about seeking answers from the modern, western wisdom tradition and the indigenous tradition. I feel it is a mistake to assume healing is simply a matter of returning to the wisdom of indigenous culture, as if they had all the answers.
Vision has many modes, and what we put our faith in depends on our mode of perception. Science reveals aspects of the world, truths about the world, that were beyond the reach of indigenous cultures. Indigenous cultures enjoyed profound modes of perception undreamt of by modern scientists. All these varied modes are like the hands of the seven blind men touching different parts of the elephant.
And while real vision moves forward, never back, the ‘eye’ of science remains a half-measure without the heart of wisdom that is the indigenous, perennial philosophy.
In this dream of the world wound there is clearly a theme of ‘confusion’ (notice the back and forth in the search for an etiology of the world wound between an indigenous and scientific paradigm) born of having been a product of the western world yet feeling affinity with eastern and indigenous cultures. What follows is an excerpt from an interview with Lama Govinda (a native of Germany who became a teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition) that seems relevant here (it is from an interview with the academic Rene Weber and Lama Govinda)…
Weber: You said that although the west now has a great interest in Buddhism and other eastern systems, it cannot gain these insights by merely taking over the form, that we must revitalize the inner essence by clothing it in a new form. But do we have the symbols and icons of our own for building new forms?
Govinda: I think we should apply our intelligence and our own feeling to the main issues. The important thing is not what other people have to say, but rather what we experience. That means we should go to the very central question which the Buddha put to himself. The Buddha was historically the first person who began to think logically. Before him, it was only a matter of belief, and one could believe in almost anything. But the Buddha for the first time said, “It is not what you believe that is important, but what you do and what you are and what you feel. Only if a teaching is consistent with your own experience should you accept it. You should not accept even my own teaching on hearsay, but only if you understand it from your own point of view.” I do not know of any other religious leader who has had a similarly free attitude, except perhaps Lao Tze.
Weber: If we could have a genuine synthesis of eastern spiritual insight with western science, then we’d create a profound vision of the universe.
Govinda: I think that we should be able to combine our knowledge in science with our experience of ourselves. This means that we would make science more ‘lively,’ and at the same time our life more scientific. We need both sides. The west needs east, and the east needs west. If both combine we shall be complete. East and West are like two sides of our brain: the one factual, the other is imaginative. The imaginativeness of the East should compensate for the matter-of-factness of the west, and vice-versa.
Weber: There might be an additional meaning to that. As you know, some writers are now attempting to discern within the content of the ancient eastern doctrines a parallel to the doctrines of modern physics regarding space, time, energy.
Govinda: Yes. I thing that Capra, for example (The Tao Of Physics) is quite right. Modern physics is nearer to eastern conceptions of the world than to mechanistic philosophy. The west, by its own impetus, is now coming nearer the east; an amalgamation is therefore possible because there is no longer any contradiction. If one goes deeply into modern science one finds that it confirms the old experiences. Even today our idea of the universe is so hazy as to be almost incomprehensible. We have to admit that we know nothing.
This is very important…For instance, life gets its meaning and value mostly through not knowing what is to come. Take the case of a person who goes to a football game. If he knew the results beforehand, there would be little pleasure for him in the game. It is just this not knowing—which makes our pleasure. It would be terrible if we were to know what our life in the future would be.
Weber: You said that a philosophy must spring from the conditions of one’s time. In our own time this is difficult by comparison to the wisdom of the ancients.
Govinda: I think we should be governed by the needs of our time, not ask what the ancients did, but rather what we can do now. The ancients lived under very different conditions from ours, and we must try to find our own way.
—Dialogues With Scientists And Sages: The Search For Unity, Renee Weber
So, what is the basic East/West dichotomy? I will take this topic up in more detail at the end of this exegesis, but for now I’ll note that while the Logos Of Christianity shares many essential features with the Logos of Plato, both contrast sharply and fundamentally with the pre -Socratic Logos of Heraclitus which, surprisingly, has much in common with Buddhism, particularly Japanese Zen.
…it is perhaps best to understand Zen as an anti-philosophy if the term “philosophy” is taken to mean the establishment of “the kingdom of reason,” which has been launched vis-à-vis an intellectual effort of the most brilliant minds in Europe since the modern period as a way of emancipating human nature from the confines of Christian theological dogmas. Since then, various Western philosophers have attempted to capture human nature with this goal in mind by using ego-consciousness as a starting point as well as a destination in philosophy; to name a few representative ones, human nature has been captured in terms of ego-consciousness (e.g., Descartes), Reason, Personality, Transcendental Subjectivity (e.g., Kant and Husserl), Life (e.g., Dilthey), Existence (e.g., Existential philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Jaspers and Sartre) and Dasein (Heidegger). (Yuasa, 2003, 160–61.)
By contrast, Zen’s stance of “anti-philosophy” maintains among other things that reason in its discursive use is incapable of knowing and understanding in toto what reality is, for example, what human beings are and what their relation to nature is. For this reason, Zen contends that physical nature and human nature must be sought in an experiential dimension practically trans-descending, and hence transcending, the standpoint of ego-consciousness. That is to say, it must go beyond “the one” and “the two,” as both of these stances are prone to generate a one-sided, and hence incomplete world-view. Instead, they must be sought in the depths of one’s psychē and beyond.
…As may be surmised then, by relying on the above-mentioned methodological stance, Zen Buddhism has produced an understanding of reality—one’s own self, living nature and human nature—quite different from those offered by Western philosophy. Therefore, we can say that Zen is an anti-philosophy in that it is not a systematization of knowledge built on the use of a discursive mode of reasoning anchored in the (alleged) certainty or transparency of ego-consciousness, by following an Aristotelian either-or logic. —Japanese Zen, Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy
As I said, the Platonic/Judaeo-Christian Logos is quite different from the Logos of Heraclitus…
…Platonism…is defined by the belief that existence is structured in terms of oppositions (separate substances or forms) and that the oppositions are hierarchical, with one side of the opposition being more valuable than the other…the hierarchies between the invisible…and the visible; between essence and appearance; between body and soul (and) good and evil.
Heraclitus’s…logoi do not relate in terms of friendly mutual address, but in antagonistic opposition. Indeed, the ratio-relation can be regarded as primarily as holding these items apart, rather than together, just as rafters lean into each other to spread the wings of a sloping roof.
(But) “Difference and agreement are to the cosmic harmonia as a back-tensed tuning is to the bow and lyre.” Where ‘tuning’ is the translation of harmonia when applied to the tuned stringing of instruments. The figure signifies that the cosmos is vibrantly tensed by the same strained bond that sets the bow and lyre twanging. Heraclitus is all for a high strung world…
…Speaking of the cosmos, he says people don’t understand how “differing agrees with itself”…Dr. Eryximachus, who speaks in Plato’s Symposium…just can’t understand how Heraclitus can commit so great an absurdity as to speak of harmony of difference: “For harmony is consonance.”
“Encounters: Whole and not Wholes, what agrees and disagrees, is consonant and dissonant, and out of everything one, and out of one everything. –The Logos Of Heraclitus, Eva Brann
Returning to the theme of the World Wound, in the dream the wound went from ‘eye’ to ‘heart’–What follows is an interview with the physicist David Bohm…
Bohm: …We have to come to a state of high energy…Energy has also been called passion. In other words, clarity and passion together are needed.
Weber: The mind and heart it used to be called.
Bohm: Yes…clarity and passion.
Weber: Or intelligence and love?
Bohm: Yes. But love in the sense of some very intense energy—and not just…
Weber: Sentiment…Love without a content, is what you’re saying. Without a mental image. All right, you say the roots of all these disparate problems lives in…the nonmanifest.
Bohm: …It is no just in an individual. It is in the nonmanifest consciousness of mankind…it can be thought of as a collective. But it’s not a collection of consciousness.
Weber: It’s not additive. It’s one…
Bohm: It’s One.
Weber: What would you call it?
Bohm: …simply the nonmanifest universal consciousness of mankind. That sorrow is there…And sorrow creates this immense pressure to relieve it which further corrupts and pollutes everything.
Weber: And yet the oddity of it…is the individual…has to…clean up…his own corner of it.
Bohm: That’s right…because we could say the individual has direct access to the cosmic totality. And therefore it is through the individual that the general consciousness has to get cleared up…not just his own corner of it, because he, the individual, goes beyond. The individual is an actuality which includes this manifestation of the consciousness of mankind, but he is more. Every individual is his own particular contact. Every individual is in total contact with the implicate order, with all that is around us.
Weber: And yet the paradox that troubles me is this: you would think if the nonmanifest collective is the source of the root of the conflict—then if a saint…achieves integrity—then the whole thing ought to be…unpolluted. But that isn’t so…why isn’t it so?
Bohm: …it takes a higher degree of energy…it’s something like the transformation of the atom…they transformed a few atoms, we could call that transformation in germ…and then it spread like a flame and became…a chain reaction. The individual who sees this [principle about inner energy and intelligence] may be like the one who has discovered the transformation of the atom. In principle he has already transformed mankind, but it has not yet come about, right?…it takes a still higher energy to reach the whole of the consciousness of mankind. But he has reached the principle of the consciousness of mankind…
Weber: But in actuality, not just in theory.
Bohm: In actuality. But still he hasn’t quite the energy to reach the whole, to put it all on fire, as it were…
Weber: You’re saying he’s outweighed?
Bohm: He’s outweighed by the massive pollution that has gone on over the ages. But this pollution can be burned up…we need a still more intense energy than that individual can give. Now, where will that come from? What I propose is that it is still possible now for a number of individuals who are in close relation and who have gone through this and can trust each other to establish a one-mind of the whole set of individuals. In other words, that that consciousness is one, acting as one. If you had as many as ten people, or a hundred people, who could really be that way, they would have a power immensely beyond one.
Weber: Because it’s not mathematically additive.
Bohm: No…an intense heightening…that would begin to ignite…this whole consciousness of mankind…I’m merely saying…that…consciousness, deep down, is one, the whole of mankind. But then any part of mankind may establish a one-ness within that part of consciousness. And if ten people can have their part of consciousness all one, that is an energy which begins to spread to the whole.
Weber: And changes it; it’s bound to change some of it.
Bohm: Yes. Some of it—or perhaps deeply.
Weber: …So you’re saying that prior to this current awareness of the centrality of consciousness, what we’ve been trying to do is hopeless because we’ve addressed small social problems in all of the wrong domain, so to speak.
Bohm: Yes…not going to their source at all…individual salvation actually has very little meaning, because…the consciousness of mankind is one…Each person has a kind of responsibility not however…guilt. But in the sense that there’s really nothing to do, really…there is no other way out. That is absolutely what has to be done and nothing else can work….this view may be all wrong but if what I have said is right then there is nothing else possible but that.
—The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: an interview with David Bohm by Renee Weber
The indigenous & eastern traditions engaged the world through an inductive logic, that is, an intuitive, affective mode of perception. Western man engages the world through deductive logic; an analytic, conigitive mode of perception—as modes of perception, one is rooted in the heart, the other in the eye. What ever mode of perception we employ, one must know it is valid to operate within it, and that in each different actions are possible and impossible. The indigenous mode, in and of itself, being intuitive, lacks the analytic tools to know in this manner. The analytic mode privileges the cognitive domain to the point it is unable to acknowledge its inherent limits and bias which, ironically, undermines its claims to objectivity.
No single mode of perception is whole, every such mode is a node of the whole and has its flaws. Healing, becoming whole, entails not abandoning one mode in favor of the other but understanding how they complement one another, especially as they now can be seen as fingers pointing in the same general direction.
The interview above between Dr. Bohm and professor Weber touched upon the idea of something called ‘the implicate-order.’ As much of what follows is relevant to this topic, l’m going to quote from an interview with Dr. Bohm in Omni Magazine. As professor Weber noted above, any new philosophy must spring from the conditions of our own time, and knowing the nature of our own time is much more difficult than in the past. And as ‘by its own impetus the west in drawing nearer the east’ it is important to understand something of this development in the west as well as some notion of the nature of the indigenous or perennial philosophy…
Omni: Your key concept is something you call enfoldment. Could you explain it?
Bohm: Everybody has seen an image of enfoldment: You fold up a sheet of paper, turn it into a small packet, make cuts in it, and then unfold it into a pattern. The parts that were close in the cuts unfold to be far away. This is like what happens in a hologram. Enfoldment is really very common in our experience. All the light in this room comes in so that the entire room is in effect folded into each part. If your eye looks, the light will be then unfolded by your eye and brain. As you look through a telescope or a camera, the whole universe of space and time is enfolded into each part, and that is unfolded to the eye. With an old-fashioned television set that’s not adjusted properly, the image enfolds into the screen and then can be unfolded by adjustment.
Omni: You spoke of coordinates and order a moment ago. How do they tie in with enfoldment? Do you mean coordinates like those on a grid?
Bohm: Yes, but not necessarily straight lines. They are a way of mapping space and time. Since space-time may be curved, the lines may be curved as well. It became clear that each general notion of the world contains within it a specific idea of order. The ancient Greeks had the idea of an increasing perfection from the earth to the heavens. Modern physics contains the idea of successive positions of bodies of matter and the constraints of forces that act on these bodies. The order of perfection investigated by the ancient Greeks is now considered irrelevant.
The most radical change in the notion of order since Isaac Newton came with quantum mechanics. The quantum-mechanical idea of order contradicts coordinate order because Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle made a detailed ordering of space and time impossible. When you apply quantum theory to general relativity, at very short distances like ten to the minus thirty-three centimeters, the notion of the order of space and time breaks down.
Omni: Can you replace that with some other sense of order?
Bohm: First you have to ask what we mean by order. Everybody has some tacit notion of it, but order itself is impossible to define. Yet it can be illustrated. In a photograph any part of an object is imaged into a point. This point-to-point correspondence emphasizes the notion of point as fundamental in sense of order. Cameras now photograph things too big or too small, too fast or too slow to be seen by the naked eye. This has reinforced our belief that everything can ultimately be seen that way.
Omni: Aren’t the contradictions you have been talking about embedded in the very name quantum mechanics?
Bohm: Yes. Physics is more like quantum organism than quantum mechanics. I think physicists have a tremendous reluctance to admit this. There is a long history of belief in quantum mechanics, and people have faith in it. And they don’t like having this faith challenged.
Omni: So our image is the lens, the apparatus suggesting the point. The point in turn suggests electrons and particles.
Bohm: And the track of particles on the photograph. Now what instrument would illustrate wholeness? Perhaps the holograph. Waves from the whole object come into each part of the hologram. This makes the hologram a kind of knowledge of the whole object. If you examine it with a very narrow beam of laser light, it’s as if you were looking through a window the size of that laser beam. If you expand the beam, it’s as though you are looking through a broader window that sees the object more precisely and from more angles. But you are always getting information about the whole object, no matter how much or little of it you take.
But let’s put aside the hologram because that’s only a static record. Returning to the actual situation, we have a constant dynamic pattern of waves coming off an object and interfering with the original wave. Within that pattern of movement, many objects are enfolded in each region of space and time.
Classical physics says that reality is actually little particles that separate the world into its independent elements. Now I’m proposing the reverse, that the fundamental reality is the enfoldment and unfoldment, and these particles are abstractions from that. We could picture the electron not as a particle that exists continuously but as something coming in and going out and then coming in again. If these various condensations are close together, they approximate a track. The electron itself can never be separated from the whole of space, which is its ground.
About the time I was looking into these questions, a BBC science program showed a device that illustrates these things very well. It consists of two concentric glass cylinders. Between them is a viscous fluid, such as glycerin. If a drop of insoluble ink is placed in the glycerin and the outer cylinder is turned slowly, the drop of dye will be drawn out into a thread. Eventually the thread gets so diffused it cannot be seen. At that moment there seems to be no order present at all. Yet if you slowly turn the cylinder backward, the glycerin draws back into its original form, and suddenly the ink drop is visible again. The ink had been enfolded into the glycerin, and it was unfolded again by the reverse turning.
Omni: Suppose you put a drop of dye in the cylinder and turn it a few times, then put another drop in the same place and turn it. When you turn the cylinder back, wouldn’t you get a kind of oscillation?
Bohm: Yes, you would get a movement in and out. We could put in one drop of dye and turn it and then put in another drop of dye at a slightly different place, and so on. The first and second droplets are folded a different number of times. If we keep this up and then turn the cylinder backward, the drops continually appear and disappear. So it would look as if a particle were crossing the space, but in fact it’s always the whole system that’s involved.
We can discuss the movement of all matter in terms of this folding and unfolding, which I call the holomovement.
Omni: What do you think is the order of the holomovement?
Bohm: It may lie outside of time as we ordinarily know it. If the universe began with the Big Bang and there are black holes, then we must eventually reach places where the notion of time and space breaks down. Anything could happen. As various cosmologists have put it, if a black hole came out with a sign flashing COCA COLA, it shouldn’t be surprising. Within the singularity none of the laws as we know them apply. There are no particles; they are all disintegrated. There is no space and no time. Whatever is, is beyond any concept we have at present. The present physics implies that the total conceptual basis of physics must be regarded as completely inadequate. The grand unification [of the four forces of the universe] could be nothing but an abstraction in the face of some further unknown.
I propose something like this: Imagine an infinite sea of energy filling empty space, with waves moving around in there, occasionally coming together and producing an intense pulse. Let’s say one particular pulse comes together and expands, creating our universe of space-time and matter. But there could well be other such pulses. To us, that pulse looks like a big bang; In a greater context, it’s a little ripple. Everything emerges by unfoldment from the holomovement, then enfolds back into the implicate order. I call the enfolding process “implicating,” and the unfolding “explicating.” The implicate and explicate together are a flowing, undivided wholeness. Every part of the universe is related to every other part but in different degrees.
There are two experiences: One is movement in relation to other things; the other is the sense of flow. The movement of meaning is the sense of flow. But even in moving through space, there is a movement of meaning. In a moving picture, with twenty-four frames per second, one frame follows another, moving from the eye through the optic nerve, into the brain. The experience of several frames together gives you the sense of flow. This is a direct experience of the implicate order.
In classical mechanics, movement or velocity is defined as the relation between the position now and the position a short time ago. What was a short time ago is gone, so you relate what is to what is not. This isn’t a logical concept. In the implicate order you are relating different frames that are copresent in consciousness. You’re relating what is to what is. A moment contains flow or movement. The moment may be long or short, as measured in time. In consciousness a moment is around a tenth of a second. Electronic moments are much shorter, but a moment of history might be a century.
Omni: So a moment enfolds all the past?
Bohm: Yes, but the recent past is enfolded more strongly. At any given moment we feel the presence of all the past and also the anticipated future. It’s all present and active. I could use the example of the cylinder again. Let’s say we enfold one droplet n times. Then we put another droplet in and enfold it n times. The relationship between the droplets remains the same no matter how thoroughly they are enfolded. So as you unfold, you will get back the original relationship. Imagine if we take four or five droplets–all highly enfolded–the relationship between them is still there in a very subtle way, even though it is not in space and not in time. But, of course, it can be transformed into space and time by turning the cylinder. The best metaphor might involve memory. We remember a great many events, which are all present together. Their succession is in that momentary memory: We don’t have to run through them all to reproduce that time succession. We already have the succession.
Omni: And a sense of movement–so you have replaced time with movement?
Bohm: Yes, in the sense of movement of the symphony, rather than the movement of the orchestra on a bus, say, through physical space.
Omni: What do you think that says about consciousness?
Bohm: Much of our experience suggests that the implicate order is natural for understanding consciousness: When you are talking to somebody, your whole intention to speak enfolds a large number of words. You don’t choose them one by one. There are any number of examples of the implicate order in our experience of consciousness. Any one word has behind it a whole range of meaning enfolded in thought.
Consciousness is unfolded in each individual. Clearly, it’s shared between people as they look at one object and verify that it’s the same. So any high level of consciousness is a social process. There may be some level of sensorimotor perception that is purely individual, but any abstract level depends on language, which is social. The word, which is outside, evokes the meaning, which is inside each person.
Meaning is the bridge between consciousness and matter. Any given array of matter has for any particular mind a significance. The other side of this is the relationship in which meaning is immediately effective in matter. Suppose you see a shadow on a dark night. If it means “assailant,” your adrenaline flows, your heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, and muscles tense. The body and all your thoughts are affected; everything about you has changed. If you see that it’s only a shadow, there’s an abrupt change again.
That is an example of the implicate order: Meaning enfolds the whole world into me, and vice versa-that enfolded meaning is unfolded as action, through my body and then through the world. The word hormone means “messenger,” that is, a substance carrying some meaning. Neurotransmitters carry meaning, and that meaning profoundly affects the immune system. This understanding could be the beginning of a different attitude to mind-and to life.
Omni: Descartes held mind and external reality together with God. You’re holding the two with meaning.
Bohm: I say meaning is being! So any transformation of society must result in a profound change of meaning. Any change of meaning for the individual would change the whole because all individuals are so similar that it can be communicated.
Vision #1 Cosmic Consciousness & The Logos
While reading The Tao Of Physics by Fritoj Capra I came across a passage that seemed an account of an LSD experience. As Mr. Capra was an employed academic, he didn’t mention LSD as the source of this particular vision, but anyone who has taken LSD would, I think, come to this conclusion. So, as so many of my most powerful experiences were the result of experimentation with entheogenic substances, should I discuss them as such or pass them off as spontaneous mystical experiences? I decided that honesty is the best policy. But I had another problem, as some experiences I describe could justly be deemed irresponsible…
The idea of mystical experiences resulting from drug use is not readily accepted in Western societies. Western culture has, historically, a particular fascination with the value and virtue of man as an individual, self-determining, responsible ego, controlling himself and his world by the power of conscious effort and will. Nothing, then, could be more repugnant to this cultural tradition than the notion of spiritual or psychological growth through the use of drugs. A “drugged” person is by definition dimmed in consciousness, fogged in judgment, and deprived of will. But not all psychotropic (consciousness-changing) chemicals are narcotic and soporific, as are alcohol, opiates, and barbiturates. The effects of what are now called psychedelic (mind-manifesting) chemicals differ from those of alcohol as laughter differs from rage, or delight from depression. There is really no analogy between being “high” on LSD and “drunk” on bourbon. True, no one in either state should drive a car, but neither should one drive while reading a book, playing a violin, or making love. Certain creative activities and states of mind demand a concentration and devotion that are simply incompatible with piloting a death-dealing engine along a highway. –Psychedelics and Religious Experience, Alan Watts
So, what happens when you try to describe an experience that entails ingesting entheogenic drugs while ‘piloting a death-dealing engine along a hiway’?–something even the open minded Alan Watts considers problematic? best, perhaps, to leave it on the cutting room floor…
The problem is, during one of the incidents I describe, I seem to be ‘guided’ to do something that seems, on the surface, quintessentially irresponsible, and yet, in retrospect, appears an incredibly powerful demonstration of the veracity of hidden dimensions of reality.
Unlike Mr. Watts I wasn’t a zen priest, didn’t have a PhD in Theology, and knew nothing about the use and misuse of entheogens. And other than one incident where I was clearly impaired, the use of such drugs did not seem to cause the type of impairment so clear with the abuse of alcohol.
I myself find the implications shocking. And yet, all the experiences I describe seem all of a piece that, on the whole, seem in the nature of profound revelation.
So, I’ll tell exactly what happened, and leave the reader to draw their own conclusions.
On the whole, there are two contrasting opinions on the extent to which mystical experiences on entheogenic drugs parallel classic mystical states. Academics and mystics who have never taken entheogenic drugs tend, on the whole, to deny they have anything in common; academics and mystics who have taken them (Huston Smith, Alan Watts to name two) tend on the whole to feel they are indistinguishable. I often wonder if those who denounce entheogenic drugs have ever considered that traditional mystics may have become mystics as the result of random neurochemical, biochemical, or genetic variation—that is, fate endowed them with the ‘mystic gene.’ And, if this is the case, how is this really different from a sudden neurochemical or biochemical fluctuation due to the ingestion of a psychoactive substance?
To this point, Sufis distinguish between what they call hal and maqam. ‘Hal’ is the sudden, spontaneous experience of higher states of consciousness unrelated to the conscious development of the experiencer. ‘Maqam’ is the stabilization in higher states of consciousness as a result of just such conscious effort.
I would argue then, that the real issue might not be whether we consider higher states of consciousness ‘natural’ or induced, but what sort of interest such experiences engender, and how much consequent effort is expended in exploring, understanding, and developing such higher states.
There’s also a third possibility; what happens if someone with the ‘mystic gene’ takes entheogenic drugs?
LSD-25 Orange Sunshine
It is an unusually sunny and warm spring day in Los Gatos, California. I am in a countryside of undulating green hills. I’m a bit giddy as the great draughts of mountain air I drink in seems to sparkle with a cool incandescence.
I come upon a large pen of sheep, and begin to feel as if, rather than moving through the countryside, it was now moving through me. What ever ‘I’ now am seems to suddenly gather itself and explode out in every direction at unfathomable speed. It feels a bit like those rides in amusement parks where you get in a chair that goes into free fall except, rather than dropping to earth, I go right through it and, rather than moving in one direction, down, I am now moving in all directions, out.
I had never heard of, considered, or imagined such a possibility but, as I had never felt such joy, such exhilaration, I was a very enthusiastic participant. Eyes closed, my consciousness rockets out and out until…my momentum is suddenly checked, and I feel like an aircraft snagged by the sort of band they use to snag planes on a carrier.
I can see and sense, through a kind of remote viewing, what is going on the other side of somewhere…It looks/feels like Houston Space Center when they land a man on the moon…a lot of jumping up and down and hugs. So…this was planned like a rocket launch? They were expecting me?
Those on ‘the other side’ appear to be beings of great light and joy, angelic even—except… funny…as in, they possessed a tremendous sense of humor, which seems to spring from a tremendous intelligence. Not the clever sort of braininess seen on earth, the kind that eventually leads us into some dark corner of the universe we then defend to the death, but a wisdom born of openness, honesty, and gentleness.
And just as images of Alice and the rabbit hole spring to mind, exactly that sort of hole opens and…mathematical equations begin shooting down some vortex from there to here and out to…somewhere…then back , through me, up the vortex, to them.
And then, just as suddenly, the hole closes, and they are gone.
I feel like Miles Monroe, the Woody Allen character in Sleeper after he had spent too much time with the ongone machine…rode hard and put up wet…
I feel in synchronistic resonance with the whole universe.
I feel like sitting down, so I sit crosslegged in the deep green spring grass at the edge of that pen of sheep. There’s one solitary sheep next to the fence where I’m sitting, and about twenty more on the far side, about thirty feet away. The sheep next to me is munching on the grass when he begins to notice me. He glances my way and seems to do something of a double take, like he isn’t sure what he’s seeing.
He then, very slowly and without making a sound, turns his head toward the opposite side of the pen where the other sheep are busy chomping on the grass. One by one, they all lift their heads and look back in our direction. Wow! How does that work?
As, at that moment, my mind was utterly still, I could sense them sensing (taking in), first the nearby sheep, then me. Sensing…in what might be called a felt, psychic mode.
Being with them, in that way, in that moment, was indescribable bliss; the family we left behind, as a poet said.
We, nature’s prodigal sons, straggling home, one at a time.
The dark things of the wood
Are coming from their caves,
They browse the orchard,
Nibble the sea of grasses
Around our yellow rooms,
Scarcely looking in
To see what we are doing
And if they still know us.
We hear them, or think we do:
The muzzle lapping moonlight,
The tooth in the apple.
Put another log on the fire;
Mozart, again, on the turntable.
Still, there is a sorrow
With us in the room.
We remember the cave.
In our dreams we go back
Or they come to visit.
They also like music.
We eat leaves together.
They are our brothers.
They are the family
We have run away from. –Mary Oliver
This is Logos…a shift in mode of perception where objects and events are part of a pattern which itself is part of a larger pattern, and so on until all is included. Within this mode love is an intrinsic property of the whole, the field from which all emerges and returns, and is as natural and instinctive as breathing….
I am the vine, and you are the branches.
I Am the All —the Gospel of Thomas, saying 77
Love is not an aberration, or the brief bumping together of meaningless molecules…Love is the fabric and foundation of every manifest thing. The visible universe is an ornament of a seething boundless net of Love. It condenses into every weird and wonderful shape. Occasionally one may glimpse this timeless firmament, the infinite One, the sacred marriage field of all beings, the mystic primordial background to the foreground of the material world…Loving relationships are so powerful because there is that recognition of themselves as extensions of a transpersonal field of love. –Alex Gray
To be attached to one’s name and shape is selfishness. A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for. Or, you may say, he is equally ‘selfish’ on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody’s welfare is his own. The feeling ‘I am the world, the world is myself’ becomes quite natural; once it is established, there is just no way of being selfish. To be selfish means to covet, to acquire, accumulate on behalf of the part against the whole. –Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Spell Of The Sensuous, David Abrams–
Late one evening I stepped out of my little hut in the rice patties of eastern Bali and found myself falling through space. Over my head the black sky was rippling with stars, densely clustered in some regions, almost blocking out the darkness between them, and more loosely scattered in other areas, pulsing and beckoning to each other. Behind them all streamed the great river of light with its several tributaries. Yet the Milky Way churned beneath me as well, for my hut was set in the middle of a large patchwork of rice paddies, separated from each other by narrow two-foot high dikes, and these paddies were all filled with water. The surface of these pools, by day, reflected perfectly blue sky, a reflection broken only by the thin, bright green tips of new rice. But by night the stars themselves glimmered from the surface of the paddies, and the river of light whirled through the darkness underfoot as well as above; there seemed no ground in front of my feet, only the abyss of star-studded space falling away forever.
I was no longer simply beneath the night sky, but also above it—the immediate impression was of weightlessness. I might have been able to reorient myself, to regain some sense of ground and gravity, were it not for a fact that confounded my senses entirely: between the constellations above drifted countless fireflies, their lights flickering like the stars, some drifting up to join clusters of stars overhead, others, like graceful meteors, slipping down from above to join the constellation underfoot, and all these paths of light upward and downward were mirrored, as well, in the still surface of the paddies. I felt myself at times falling through space, at other moments floating and drifting. I simply could not dispel the profound vertigo and giddiness; the paths of the fireflies, and their reflections in the water’s surface, held me in a sustained
trance. Even after I crawled back to my hut and shut my door on this whirling world, I felt that now the little room in which I lay was itself floating free from the earth.
I had rarely paid much attention to the natural world. But…I became increasingly susceptible to the solicitations of nonhuman things…My ears began to attend, in a new way, to the songs of the birds—no longer just a melodic background to human speech, but meaningful speech in its own right, responding to and commenting on events in the surrounding earth. I became a student of subtle differences: the way a breeze may flutter a single leaf on a whole tree, leaving the other leaves silent and unmoved; or the way the intensity of the sun’s heat expresses itself in the precious rhythm of the crickets. Walking along the dirt paths I learned to slow my pace in order to feel the difference between one nearby hill and the next, or to trace the presence of a particular field at a certain time of day…
And gradually, then, other animals began to intercept me in my wanderings, as if some quality in my posture or the rhythm of my breathing had disarmed their wariness; I would find myself face-to-face with monkeys, and with large lizards that did not slither away when I spoke, but leaned forward in apparent curiosity. In rural Java, I often noticed monkeys accompanying me in the branches overhead, and ravens walked toward me on the road, croaking. While at Pangandaran, a nature preserve jutting out from the north coast of Java…I stepped out from a clutch of trees and found myself looking into the face of one of the rare and beautiful bison that exist only on that island. Our eyes locked. When it snorted, I snorted back: when it shifted its shoulders, I shifted my stance; when I tossed my head, it tossed its head in reply. I found myself caught in nonverbal communication with this other, a gestural duet with which my conscious awareness had very little to do. It was as if my body in its actions was suddenly being motivated by a wisdom older than my thinking mind, as though it was held and moved by a logos, deeper than words, spoken by the Other’s body, the trees, and the stony ground on which we stood.
…the Church had long assumed that only human beings have intelligent souls, and that the other animals, to say nothing of trees and rivers, were “created” for no other reason than to serve mankind. We can easily understand why European missionaries, steeped in the dogma of institutionalized Christianity, assumed a belief in supernatural, otherworldly powers among those tribal persons whom they saw awestruck and entranced by nonhuman (but nevertheless natural) forces. What is remarkable is the extent to which contemporary anthropology still preserves the ethnocentric bias of these early interpreters. We no longer describe the shaman’s enigmatic spirit-helpers as the “supernatural clap-trap of the heathen primitives”—we have cleansed ourselves of at least that much ethnocentrism; yet we still refer to such enigmatic forces, respectfully now, as “supernaturals”—for we are unable to shed the sense, so endemic to scientific civilization, of nature as a rather prosaic and predictable realm, unsuited to such mysteries. Nevertheless, that which is regarded with the greatest awe and wonder by indigenous, oral culture is, I suggest, none other than what we view as nature itself. The deeply mysterious powers and entities with whom the shaman enters into a rapport are ultimately the same forces—the plants, animals, forests, and winds—that to literate, “civilized” Europeans are just so much scenery, the pleasant backdrop of our more pressing human concerns.
The most sophisticated definition of “magic” that now circulates through the American counterculture is “The ability or power to alter one’s consciousness at will.” No mention is made of any reason for altering one’s consciousness. Yet in tribal cultures that which we call “magic” takes its meaning from the fact that humans, in an indigenous and oral context, experience their own consciousness as simply one form of awareness among many others. The traditional magician cultivates an ability to shift our of his or her own common state of consciousness precisely in order to contact with other organic forms of sensitivity and awareness with which human existence is entwined. Only by temporarily shedding the accepted perceptual logic of his culture can the sorcerer hope to enter into relation with other species on their own terms; only by altering the common organization of his senses will he be able to enter into a rapport with the multiple nonhuman sensibilities that animate the local landscape. It is this, we might say, that defines a shaman: the ability to readily slip out of the perceptual boundaries that demarcate his or her particular culture—boundaries reinforced by social customs, taboos, and most importantly, the common speech or language –in order to make contact with, and learn from, the other powers in the land. His magic is precisely this heightened receptivity to the meaningful solicitations—songs, cries, gestures—of the larger, more-than-human field.
Magic, then, in its perhaps most primordial sense, is the experience of existing in a world make up of multiple intelligences, the intuition that every form perceives—from the swallow swooping overhead to the fly on a blade of grass, and indeed the blade of grass itself—is an experiencing form, an entity with its own predilections and sensations that are very different from our own…
Yet we should not be so ready to interpret these dimensions as “supernatural,” nor to view them as realms entirely “internal” to the personal psyche of the practitioner. For it is likely that the “inner world” of our Western psychological experience, like the supernatural heaven of Christian belief, originates in the loss of our ancestral reciprocity with the animate earth. When the animate powers that surround us are suddenly construed as having less significance than ourselves, when the generative earth is abruptly defined as a determinate object devoid of its own sensations and feelings, then the sense of a wild and multiplicitous otherness (in relation to which human existence has always oriented itself) must migrate, either into supersensory heaven beyond the natural world, or else into the human skull—the only allowable refuge in this world, for what is ineffable and unfathomable.
But in genuinely oral, indigenous cultures, the sensuous world itself remains the dwelling place of the gods, of the numinous powers that can either sustain or extinguish human life. It is not by sending his awareness out beyond the natural world that the shaman makes contact with the purveyors of life and health, nor by journeying into his personal psyche; rather, it is by propelling his awareness laterally, outward into the depths of a landscape at once both sensuous and psychological, the living dream that we share with the soaring hawk, the spider, and the stone silently sprouting lichens in its coarse surface.
The magician’s intimate relationship with nonhuman nature becomes most evident when we attend to the easily overlooked background of his or her practice—not just to the more visible tasks of curing and ritual aid to which she is called by individual clients, or to the large ceremonies at which she presides and dances, but to the content of the prayers by which she prepares for such ceremonies, and to the countless ritual gestures that she enacts when alone, the daily propitiations and praise that flow from her toward the land and its many voices.
The above passage is, I feel, quite illuminating regarding what I have referred to as ‘the world wound.’ Another way of looking at what I have referred to as the ‘east-west’ dichotomy is the argument between Thomas Hobbs and Jean Jacques Rousseau as to whether we should look to nature or to civilization for an explanation of man’s ills. Hobbs felt life in nature to be ‘nasty, brutish and short,’ and civilization the remedy, with its agreement whereby we ‘give up our equal right to all things for and equal chance at some things.’ Rousseau, conversely, felt man in nature to be a ‘noble savage’ and that, in a state of nature man “does not know good and evil, but their independence, along with “the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice”, keep them from doing ill (A Discourse…, 71-73) David Abrams seems to come down on the Rousseau side of this debate, and I am much in sympathy with his view. I tend to see the ‘world wound’ as, in part, due to a fall from a state of innocence intrinsic to the natural world, where good and evil are irrelevant. I also agree that, in one sense, a dualistic ego-positing and fables of bodily resurrection in a Christian style heaven are, to some extent, related to a ‘loss of our ancestral reciprocity with the animate earth.’
My problem with this view, however, is that it implies man is somehow a renegade in regard to, and an outlier of, natural forces.
There is no doubt that indigenous cultures, like the Native American culture, lived with a much greater sense of ‘ancestral reciprocity with the animate earth.’ But the question is, does this make indigenous man more ‘noble’? Did the ‘peacefulness of their passions’ ‘keep them from doing ill?’
The answer here is a resounding ‘no.’ Indigenous life was tribal life, and most evidence points to the fact that life was more, not less violent. The idea that rape and murder (doing evil) began with western style civilization is pure myth.
Man’s behavior, where ever and when ever we find him, seems rooted in what Bertrand Russell called ‘chemical imperialism’–exploitation. The real problem is that civilized man is now so successful in exploiting the outside for benefit of the inside he is about to exhaust the environment on which he depends.
The answer is not a return to the past. To have a future, man must see clearly and directly that what has brought him here thus far, the instinct to dominate and exploit, has now become the problem rather than the solution.
We have, to a great degree, become isolated from nature, we literally live in our head. But this too seems a natural development (what else could it be, after all).
The solution appears to entail…
the knower (stepping) aside altogether in favor of pure nondualistic awareness…The shape-shifting (cf. Tibetan Book of the Dead) of subatomic particles (gross matter) will not yield up the secrets of the universe. All it can offer us is knowledge, restricted to the 3-dimensional realm, as we have seen…Bohm holds out for atom-smashing of a subtler kind: to slow down and ultimately to still the shape-shifter’s dance itself, i.e., the death of the 3-dimensional thinker and his rebirth within the n-dimensional domain of consciousness.
To be in any form, what is that that?
Mine is not callous shell,
I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop.
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.
I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy,
To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I can stand.
All truths wait in all things,
They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
They do no need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon
The insignificant is as big to me an any,
What is less or more than a touch?
Song Of Myself, Walt Whitman
I had always read a lot of science fiction and eastern philosophy. I lived with a yogi for a couple years, and in a sufi kanka for five years, but never came across an answer for what might have happened that spring day in Los Gatos…until…in my fifties I met a woman who was a channeler. I was skeptical, but she seemed down to earth and, one day, I had a session. She channeled a friend from a past life named Antoine. In the middle of the session Anotoine said, ‘You have a body in another star system, the Pleiades.’
Now, the only thing I was more skeptical about than channeling was ‘aliens.’ Antoine sensed this and responded, ‘I know, there’s a lot of nonsense about aliens, so just keep an open mind about this.’
It so happened I was going to a bodywork workshop the following weekend, something called Amanae. And after the channeling session Robin said, ‘Did you know the woman who came up with Amanae believed she channeled the method from beings in the Pleiades?’
The workshop was held in a house on a few country acres. As I entered the house on that first morning of the workshop I did what I usually do, make a beeline for the bookshelf. I was drawn to a book with a single word on the spine, Earth. When I pulled it out I saw the title, Earth, Pleiadian Keys to the Living Library.
In that book I came across a possible explanation for that spring day in. According to the book, earth used to be one of twelve, interconnected, galactic genetic libraries.
These libraries were set up for the same reason seed libraries are being set up on earth, to protect vital genetic codes from some catastrophic event. The method of storage and retrieval was, however, much different. These codes were stored in ‘bones and stones’ and could be accessed psychically through the consciousness of designated librarians (In The Singularity Is Near, scientist Ray Kurzweill asked the question, ‘How smart if a rock? and noted that with the possibility of manipulating the atoms on the nanoscale, a five pound rock has as much storage capacity as all the human brains on earth). As this information was precious it was safeguarded by the fact the guardians were all adepts whose consciousness was tuned to the frequency of cosmic unity. So, only those at a similar advanced evolutionary stage could access this information.
According to this book, there were forces determined to control this information whose consciousness was of a regressive nature. Unable to gain access, they destroyed the libraries by meddling with the DNA of the librarians, effectively shutting off access, thereby closing down the libraries.
So the Pleiadians came up with this covert mission to sneak one of their own onto the planet, arrange for him to be at a certain place and time in the three dimensional grid, while simultaneously making sure he reaches a certain pitch in consciousness, granting them access to all those precious codes?
Is that what happened?
It’s a cracking good story, and maybe that’s all we have, in the end—a story derived from our best guess.
And that’s exactly what the Pleiadians themselves say in their books—don’t take anything we say too seriously because, in the end, it’s all a story.
Vision#2 The World in Reverse
LSD White Lightening
I am driving to McDonalds when my brain suddenly…stops…functioning. I was, suddenly, unsure what the white line in the middle of the road meant. Do I drive to the left of it?—tried it, didn’t feel right. What about driving over it?—nope. To the left?—not really sure.
If you think driving with a trick knee is a problem, try driving with a trick brain.
Fortunately, a part of my brain that was still functioning told me it was best to pull over to the curb.
As I got out of the car, I noticed a crowd gathering across the street next to a building with a lot of pretty colored lights. As it looked like everyone was having fun, I crossed to street to check it out. I entered the building and saw people in a line handing something to someone on one side of something who then handed back something to the person standing on the other side of that same thing. Everyone looked as if they were having fun but, as I had no idea why, I went back out the way I came in.
After I made my way across the street to my car, I turned back to the scene I’d just left and noticed something interesting. It’s hard to describe what I saw, but it was very funny. It was something like seeing the world in reverse. It looked as if, rather than moving forward under their own power in a direction of their choosing, everyone was being drawn along by some unseen force along predetermined vectors. As impaired as I was, I realized I was seeing behind appearances to some universal truth. Just what that truth was, was, at that moment, beyond my ken.
Besides, I had more important fish to fry; like how to find my way back from where I came. I saw something on the corner that looked like it could be of some help. It was a metal pole just up ahead. On top of this pole were two pieces of metal at 90 degrees to one another with what looked like instructions printed on them. Some part of me sensed a hidden missive in the instructions, but that part of me wasn’t accessible at the moment. And just then I heard what sounded like a kind of sonar ‘ping’ coming from a specific direction. With nothing else to rely on, I followed this signal.
I turned down this street, walked for a few blocks, then turned and walked a few more blocks, following the ‘ping’ until I came upon a building that seemed to be the source of the signal. One door looked more promising than the others, so I tried my key and EUREKA! I had made it home.
In mechanistic, Newtonian physics, the world is defined in terms of material bodies that are in turn defined by their properties, in particular, their locations in space. Their behavior is then described in terms of the various forces operating between them which cause them to move or change their states. And where does this leave man?
Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms. –Bertrand Russell
In this view man is the ‘ghost in the machine,’ a nonentity that is the ‘product of causes which had no provision of the ends they were achieving.’ In short, what I saw that day was man as he really is, shorn of his conceits—so this amounts to a kind of anti-hallucination.
And while my experience coincides perfectly with the materialist view of the world, most scientists would reject it. Which brings to mind a New Yorker cartoon where a scientist is drawing elaborate calculations on his chalkboard. Right in the middle of his calculations is a bridge where it reads—here a miracle happens. The miracle is this—scientists accept all their data with one exception—when it comes to conscious beings, that is, themselves. All this is well and good, they say, just don’t include ‘me’ in it–a philosophic form of exceptionalism.
A strange mystery it is that Nature, omnipotent but blind, in the revolutions of her secular hurryings through the abysses of space, has brought forth at last a child, subject still to her power, but gifted with sight, with knowledge of good and evil, with the capacity of judging all the works of his unthinking Mother. In spite of Death, the mark and seal of the parental control, Man is yet free, during his brief years, to examine, to criticize, to know, and in imagination to create. To him alone, in the world with which he is acquainted, this freedom belongs; and in this lies his superiority to the resistless forces that control his outward life.
This clever slight of hand already has a name—compatabilism—the claim that, somehow, the whole chain of cause and effect going back to the big bang stops dead in its tracks as ‘the ghost’ stops ‘to choose.’ Somehow, all behavior is determined by blind, impersonal forces, except thought—my thought in particular…
People who believe already that humans are magic will have no problem with that. But whatever that power is — call it soul or the spirit — those people have to explain how it could stand independent of the physical universe and yet reach from the immaterial world and meddle in our own, jiggling brain cells that lead us to say the words (‘I choose’)… —Dennis Overbye. New York Times Science
As logically inconsistent as all this is, I would argue it is to be expected. The search for universal forces and principles is all good and well as long it applies to the world out there and remains a polite abstraction. The leap to locating our self within the great without of those cosmic forces requires more than logic—it requires vision, imagination and, most of all, the courage to face reality with head in hand, so to speak.
But there is one aspect of the experience described above that contradicts a central tenet of mechanistic science, as mechanism denies the possibility of the sort of direct experience I am describing. But this is true only of Pre-Quantum, mechanistic science, the physics of discrete bodies and forces acting on and between them. PostQM physics contradicts the basic tenets of the old physics (a fact acknowledged by Bohr, author of the standard model of QM) and seems to describe a world of organism rather than mechanism.
The point being that while it is impossible to imagine a part of a machine knowing, in any meaningful sense, the whole, the organismic model lends itself to analogies like the hologram, where each part contains and, theoretically at least, might ‘know’ the whole.’
Have the intention to sit in silence, have the intention to be patient and kind, then watch what ensues.
The Scottish philosopher David Hume held man’s nature was not logical or moral, that he was ‘nothing but’ animal instinct, that is, our instinctive biological dictates. The British philosopher Bertrand Russell suggested, as biology is ‘nothing but chemistry,’ man is nothing but ‘chemical imperialism’—the need for matter to assimilate other matter into itself.
Every living thing is a sort of imperialist, seeking to transform as much as possible of its environment into itself… When we compare the (present) human population of the globe with… that of former times, we see that “chemical imperialism” has been… the main end to which human intelligence has been devoted.
Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Philosophy, (New York 1960) 31-32.
The first step in awakening is the realization we are asleep; that is, waking up to what had been the proximal experience of the mechanism of 4D space/time, thus making the subliminal liminal and distal. Instinct is an orientation system that the physicist David Bohm called ‘the force of necessity’—’that which cannot be otherwise.’ This force is ‘necessary’ in another sense, as an orientation system. The ego, the ghost, imagines it is in charge and cannot imagine the true state of affairs, and until we manage to catch a glimpse of how things really are, exploitation will remain the main end to which human intelligence is devoted. For a short period of time my instinctive ‘orienting system’ underwent a biochemical crash, which opened up some archimedean vantage point from which I could see that to emerge within 4D space/time is to be literally ‘possessed’ by the mechanistic forces that rule that world, forces whose prime directive can, I believe, be accurately described by the carbon edict–‘exploit the outside for the benefit of the inside.’ From within 4D space time there is no free will in the libertarian sense of being free from external constraints; and this means, according to Kant–that, absent an autonomous will–there can be nothing worthy of the name ‘morality.’ But this experience also implies something Kant denied–the possibility of an archimedean vantage point.
Samadhi With Open Eyes– Excuse Me, While I Kiss The Sky
I’m going to try and liven things up a bit by including some biographical detail.
Do you remember the scene in Groundhog Day where Phil Conners is in the bar with a couple of locals reminiscing about the best day in his life and wishing that day would be repeating over and over?
Well, here’s one of my memorable days.
I was twenty-one and living the dream in Lake Tahoe. I backpacked, met up with pals, hooked up with beautiful women, hung out at the beach, lounged in the sun, and frolicked in natural volcanic hotsprings that dotted the area. One evening, while crashing with a friend and making my way to a bedroom, I stepped gingerly over what looked like a half-naked woman lying in the hallway. As I tried to quietly step over her she looked up and playfully grabbed my ankle. My god, this woman was tan, lovely and, it turns out, an explosion in a hormone factory.
When I got out of high school I was, to put it kindly, unschooled in the ways of the fairer sex. I had male friends that ran the gamut from James Bond to Jerry Lewis, but found them of little help in this regard. What saved me was being reasonably good looking and a facility for friendship with women. We talked. They told me what was really going on with them and their friends. They were horny, crazy horny, most of the time, just like me. I learned Freud was wrong, that it wasn’t hard to know what women wanted. They wanted, in their late teens & early twenties anyway, to get laid. But they quickly tired of two types of men: the slick and experienced but egomaniacal would-be lothario, and the naïve, clumsy, scared-but-sensitive type that couldn’t find their way around a clitoris with a map and a flashlight. I learned women were selfish—they wanted to climax too. Their rules seemed simple enough: 1) Fucking was a team sport with some, but not a lot, of skill and practice required. 2) Love is not required but caring is—which means don’t fuck someone you would never otherwise hang with.
But, this woman, with the smoldering eyes and her fingers laced around my ankle, she had been rock climbing and had that energy of the mountains, of the Sierra Nevadas, all over her—she smelled of something like granite musk. I squatted over her, my crotch over her bare belly. I took her in for a bit, no words, then leaned over and entwined my hands with hers, feeling her energy, closing my eyes. She grabbed my shirt with both hands and drew me to her, sticking her tongue down my throat. We had both been outdoors, a lot, and smelled of the earth and sun. We touched, groped, probed and moaned, even engaged in that staple of romance novels, writhing. Lots and lots of writhing.
Once she began to yank off her pants, I thought it best to go private. I helped her to her feet, closed the door and led her to the bed. This was Amanda, a junior theatre major at Stanford. At the end of a magical summer, I dropped her off in Palo Alto and headed back for a winter of work as a ski instructor. Still feeling the effects of some LSD we had taken, I suddenly entered Samadhi while driving back to Tahoe.
I did not think, ‘Oh, I’m entering Samadhi!’ At the time the ‘I’ simply and completely vanished. Whiteout…Nada…Nothing. It was as if the world had been a program on one of those old TV’s with vertical and horizontal control buttons that suddenly enfolded. Then, in that nothingness, a dialogue box appeared. “I’m driving. ‘I’ can’t see—not good, not safe.” At that thought the world unfolded and ‘I’ was back. Then I heard a voice—“Good. You must be safe. Your thought, ‘this must be safe’ will keep you safe. Hold that thought.” The world then enfolded once more. I don’t know how far I drove in that condition, but I can tell you ‘I’ couldn’t see the road. Which raises the question, ‘Who was driving?’
You might notice some similarity between this experience and the scene from Star Wars where Obi Wan trains Luke to use his light sabre while blindfolded, but a better analogy would be Luke learning to fly his starship blindfolded.
You are a puppet, but in the hands of the infinite, which may be your own. –Antonio Porchia
What’s the actual identity, what’s the actual inner person, is there an inner self, is there an identity? Anybody’s identity problem is the entire universe; it’s as vast as the entire universe. –Allen Ginsberg
I later learned there was a description for this state of consciousness, ‘Samadhi with open eyes.’ My sufi teacher had volunteered for experiments where he would get hooked up to an electroencephalograph, and gradually entered the gamma range of dreamless sleep (the various ranges are, from waking to dreamless sleep, beta, alpha, theta, delta, gamma) while playing the cello. This implies we enter Samadhi each night when we enter the dreamless sleep phase.
Experiencing Samadhi with open eyes was, for me, a persuasive demonstration that ‘the universe drives the car,’ so to speak. And this vision, like Vision #2, fits in perfectly with the idea our empirical self is little more than a ghost in the machine. In this light, Samadhi is the concrete, subjective actualization and realization of the abstract universal principles of western science.
And the idea that the universe ‘drives the car’ is a perfectly rational, scientific conclusion once we drop the irrational exclusion of conscious beings.
But the real problem here is not science, is it? The real problem is this; the idea of Samadhi with open eyes fundamentally contradicts our commonsense sense of self. But stop to consider; while the world looks flat, the calculations of Eratosthenes (among other things) shows this view to be a bit of naïve realism….
The mineness in question…refers to the distinct givenness or the how it feels of experience. It refers to the first person presence or character of experience…It could consequently be claimed that anybody who denies the for-me-ness of experience simply fails to recognize an essential constitutive aspect of experience. Such a denial would be tantamount to a denial of the first-person perspective. It would entail the view that my own mind is either not given to me at all–I would be mind-or-self blind–or is presented to me in exactly the same way as the minds of others.
–Phenomenological Approaches to Self-Consciousness, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Samadhi with open eyes is exactly what is described above as a kind of mind-blindness. And the experience of cosmic consciousness described above is very much a case of what might be called field consciousness, where mind is presented ‘to me’ in exactly the same way as the minds of others.
And while this can sound like a claim humans aren’t able to distinguish between moving on our own power down a sidewalk and being carried along on an escalator, it’s really more a claim that 3D mind, objectively seen, amounts to being carried along on the escalator of instinct, as opposed to being possessed of a truly autonomous, determinative power.
But this still leaves unanswered the question what, exactly, is ‘seeing’ in the state I refer to as ‘samadhi with open eyes’ other than, ‘the universe.’
…In order to give a still more concrete sense of what Zen-seeing is like, we now return to the question of how Zen understands the experiential meaning of ”seeing into one’s nature.“ Zen’s contention is that the bottomless ground is that which non-dualistically ”sees“ when the practitioner experiences the state of nothing, (or no-thought and no-image). Japanese Zen, Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy
And this ‘bottomless ground’ seems identical to what David Bohm refered to above as the ‘holomovement.’
Everything emerges by unfoldment from the holomovement, then enfolds back into the implicate order…The implicate and explicate together are a flowing, undivided wholeness. ..
I myself experienced reality…saw the structure of the universe (Logos or Plan)…I knew the true state of things…I was made into an active…station of change…and felt what appeared to be–or was–possession by God..also Divine intervention (to restore hamonie)..What acted was Immanent Mind which carries within it, me and everyone else including my total environment. That this realm exists is not an object of knowledge to our society; it used to be called The Gods, in the Greek sense, not in the Hebrew sense…our society…continues on unaware of the forces which ultimately govern… –The Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick
And God said unto Moses, ‘I Am That I Am.’ –Exodus 3:14
Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. –Arthur Schopenhauer
Regarding the human condition it seems clear we suffer less from what we do not know than from what we do not know that we’re sure we do know.
‘I would not’ says Socrates, ‘be confident in everything I say about the argument: but one thing I would fight for to that end…that if we believed,we should try to find out what is not known (then) we should be better and braver and less idle than if we believed that what we do not know (was) impossible to find out and that we need not try.’ –The Meno
Vision#4 Mt. Analog Tantric Rapture
The beautiful and imperishable comes into existence due to the suffering of individual perishable creatures who themselves are not beautiful and must be reshaped to form a template from which the beautiful if printed.. -PK Dick
I had dropped out of the paper chase for a year, but was now back in the bay area to complete the work toward my degree. Amanda and I had stayed in touch but, as neither of us felt ready to settle down, the relationship remained casual. At the time there were a lot of outdoor music festivals called ‘human be—ins.’ And on one fine summer day in 1969, in a park across from the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto we attended just such a ‘be-in.’ This was another of those groundhog days I would have been quiet content to ride around on, like a ferris wheel, forever. It was the San Francisco bay area, circa 1969 and…well…forget aboutfg7 it…I can’t possibly describe it better than Hunter Thompson…
San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . . History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
Today, the Ali Akbar Khan school is providing the music and the dancing girls—gorgeous women dressed in Indian Saris. Amanda and I are sitting on the fresh cut grass, drinking wine and eating slices of cheese and apple when a particular dancer catches my eye. She is doing some kind of sideways step when she lifts her left leg to do a kind type of hop when… she…just…keeps going, as in levitating. I’m looking right at her and still can’t believe what I’m seeing.
She seems in a trance, unaware she’s just done something impossible by all known laws of physics. She traveled sideways over a distance that would have made an olympic long jumper proud, without anything like the effort needed to cover that distance. She floated effortlessly.
As my sufi teacher would later say, nature’s laws are God’s habits.
Drunk on love, summer, wine and magic, we had some dinner then went for a walk around campus when we reached what felt like a power vortex. We stopped. We held hands and saw us in a past life, on that very spot. We were Native Americans. I was a shaman who had fallen out of favor with our tribe. We were lovers who now had to say goodbye. I told her we would meet again, on that very spot; and here we were, together again, just like I had predicted.
Death is temporary, love is eternal.
The joy you feel when you know, not just that something like this is possible, is impossible to put into words, but feels something like I imagine Molly Jensen felt in the movie Ghost as she watched the penny slide up the wall.
Levitation is a parlor trick, love is the real magic.
I felt my self then, seeing my self now, seeing myself then. To that shaman, bodies are avatars of the soul, garments worn and discarded. This is the God Realm. The energy is pure and sure. When our sense of self transcends identification with the immediate, with external events, good or bad, we enter the God Realm.
We continued our walk and came upon another power center. We are now standing on some promontory at dusk, on the near side of what looks like a silver river. On the far side rises an ancient, mammoth mountain, a holy mountain—Mt. Kailash in Tibet. The mountain is deity. We hear a sound…of finest tinkling crystal. This vibration is so exquisitely pure it reduces all the sorrow of existence to a single crystal tear. Here is where perfect bliss and absolute sorrow are wedded, whole and the broken forever joined, all creation sustained and renewed.
‘Tantra’ has a root meaning similar to ‘text’ as in ‘textile’—meaning ‘to weave’—and one evening as Amanda and I were standing in my living room something happened I later came to call ‘tantric rapture.’ An energy vortex seemed to open up around us and this incredibly intoxicating rapture seized us both simultaneously. This energy created a sensation something like two vortexes in a river might feel if they were human and had never noticed a river joined them. I was suddenly as high and energized as I’d ever been without benefit of drugs or long weeks of meditation. It was a Friday night, and for the next two nights we were unable to sleep, disinterested in sleep actually, as the energy that joined us was so erotic and loving and tranquil it was unthinkable to break off from it by falling asleep. And the thing is, we were fine without sleep, didn’t seem to need it.
One Saturday morning, we went to breakfast and then to the Palo Alto Street Fair. I was looking around and made eye contact with a man in a booth across the street. Whatever it was Amanda and I were feeling must have been contagious, as once my eyes locked with this man he lit up like a Christmas Tree, as if he felt the river also. Whatever this energy was, it seemed as if it could be communicated with a glance.
At that moment, for a moment, I felt a slight dimensional shift; as if, with a bit more energy, everything could shift. I thought back to something the physicist David Bohm had said; sufficiently energetically aligned, somewhere between 10 and 100 people might be enough to set the world afire.
It’s all a kind of spiritual physics—lift and drag. I could see an evolutionary possibility that sunny summer day I would never forget—we are marvelously made!
Know that we were not created in jest or at random. But marvelously made and for some great end! –Al Ghazzali
When you are old
When you are old and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly dream, and read of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty, with love false and true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur a little sadly how love fled, And paced upon the mountains overhead, And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. –Yeats
GodSpell And The Dark Night of the Soul
The mirror on my wall
Casts an image dark and small
But I’m not sure at all it’s my reflection.
I am blinded by the light
Of God and truth and right
And I wander in the night without direction. –Simon & Garfunkel
Maybe it was a matter, both within and without, of too much too fast. While, in one sense, the awakening of the god realm appeared to peak in 1969 with Woodstock, camelot had already taken a preemptive hit with the Kennedy assasination in 1962. Then, in quick succession came the assasinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968. As if this wasn’t bad enough, that dark shadow of the hippy culutre, Charles Manson and his family, would strike in 1969 in LA. Then in December, the seeming coup de grace, only months after the festival of peace and love, came that antiwoodstock concert, Altalmont. Ironic, isn’t it? Altamont was a converted speedway—too much too fast.
Just as suddenly as the visions started up, they stopped. I returned to school, but as nothing an American University offered in the early seventies seemed relevant, I dropped out. What came next was the classic dark night of the soul, wandering in circles in the desert for years and years. I felt like a stock character in an AI loop that fed out the algorithms of the character that interpreted the world that reified the character—and so it goes. Truly creative response, something ‘out of the loop’ seemed impossible. Six years of depression on a ‘mild to catonic’ scale ensued. Therapy didn’t help, as every therapist I saw was another stock character who had yet to even see the loop. And if they couldn’t find the courage to face their own loopiness, how could they help me with mine? Their idea of happiness was my idea of stupidity; stupid, not as in dumb, but as in lazy, no balls, zero willingness to ask WIGO (what is going on?). I’ll suffer and struggle with the truth. No drugs, no BS about adjusting to social consensus.
There were mornings when the world seemed too heavy to lift, to do the sort of pushing needed to get out of bed, and so I didn’t. I drifted from job to job, relationship to relationship.
One day while getting a haircut in front of a large mirror with an identical mirror behind I saw the face of a young man with eyes so bloodshot and exhausted I was startled. The mirrors mirrored each other like a well in infinite regress, like a dark maze with, seemingly, no bottom, like a dark hole growing in size, day by day.
The notion of being, thought and emotion in the God Realm needs qualification, less it become conflated with anthropomorphic projections rooted in their lower dimensional shadows. Take my suffering through the dark night of the soul, for instance. It was not the gain, then loss, of the god realms that caused my suffering. Suffering itself was not the real problem. The problem was the way in which I personalized my suffering. The real problem was that ‘I’ suffered. If the deity had reached down and healed me, the fact that the rest of the world continued to suffer would not have disturbed my sleep. What I really suffered from was a local, personal definition of suffering. The only religious icon I’ve kept next to my bed for most of my life is a statue of Siva. If you look under Siva’s feet you’ll see an infant, which is disturbing as Siva seems to be trampling it. I take this as a comment on the suffering of innocents. Was my suffering innocent, or was it rooted in a narcissistic delusion that ‘I’ should, for some reason, be exempt from suffering? Real prayer is rooted in a concern for the health of the ultimate environment. Which, in turn, means faith is not rooted in local, personal identities or outcomes.
Well the first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry any more,
cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door.
Think this through with me, let me know your mind,
Wo, oh, what I want to know, is are you kind?
…Come hear Uncle John’s Band,
Playing to the tide,
Come with me or go alone,
He’s come to take his children home.
–Uncle John’s Band, Grateful Dead
I am a tide in the sea of life, Bearing all souls toward the shore. –Hazrat Inayat Khan
Vision # 5 Quantum Dreaming
The message in our time is the waking of humanity to the divinity of man. –Hazrat Inayat Khan
Something like five years passed in this manner. I’m now living in New Mexico teaching yoga when the light begins to penetrate what had become a dark maze with, seemingly, no way out.
Then, another dream.
I’m asleep and wake up, still in the dreamstate. I’m sitting with an east Indian looking man with a beard. He’s initiating me and giving me a mantra.
I’m living with a University of New Mexico college student (not much to tell here, we are both just another M&M) and, as it is summer, we decide to move in together. She tells me she needs to return to her parent’s home in Tucson to get some of her possessions, so we set off for Tucson. As it is her parent’s home, we sleep in sepate bedrooms.
The next morning, as I begin to awaken, I feel something I’ve never felt in my life—home, sweet home! It was like I was destined to be here, at this exact now. As it turns out Carrie also has had a change of heart and decides to stay in Tucson for the summer. So we both find work and a place to live.
I begin teaching yoga in the evenings in a public school classroom. One day I notice a poster on a wall advertising a class that says, ‘Meditation in Motion! Sufi Dancing.’ It sounds interesting and I decide to attend.
Kismet! Love at first sight! And as there is a local sheik in Tucson, I get initiated and begin attending classes.
I fall in love with Tucson, with its white sand deserts and 3,000 foot Mt. Lemon. One afternoon while hiking in the desert, another vision.
My sense of being a subject in a 3-D space-time grid begins to dissolve in a fountain with interpenetrating ascending and descending streams. As the fountain ascends there is an invigorating rush of life and joy. The thought occurs, ‘This is what it feels like to be born!’ As the fountain descends there is an enervating sense of dissolution and decay. The thought occurs, ‘This is what it feels like to die!’ But neither is a stand alone reality. Each defines the other. Where the two streams meet a vortex is created that I now see as a template for self. But the vortex is clearly only a relatively enduring and stable pattern of the river, which gives rise to but transcends any relativistic, dualistic constructs of alive and dead, natural and supernatural, time and space, here and there, self and other. This in turn gives rise to an ache in the heart—a tender sense of compassion for all living things struggling with all forms of duality and, hence, suffering.
This fountain feels to be the result of a kind of pulse, which the Hindus call spanda. And this pulse appears to rise from some quiescent root the Hidus refer to as Shiva. Then, as the pulse of spanda expresses itself creatively and dynamically in space and time, Shiva becomes Shakti.
In the Aghor tradition of Hinduism, the purpose of existence is fulfilled in the form of the Aghoreshwar, who completes the return of form to the formless, quiescent root, Shiva. The Aghoreshwar then, is an aspect of form that has the capacity to hold the conscious energy of its True Source. In Christian terms, the Ashoreshwar is the Logos, or Christ.
The Aghoreshawar is Siva is Shakti–the holy trinity…
My sense is that this process is not final, eschatological, but more an evolutionary reformatting of existence; a process whereby identity is deconstructed then reconstructed along vaster, more efficacious parameters with more veracity regarding the true nature of reality, that is, our true identity, our true interior. My sense is that we will, in time, come to understand not that what we have called God is this true identity, but that our true identity is what we have been calling God.
I meet my true spiritual guide, a sufi name Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, who tells me his father first initiated me. As his father died in 1927, this seems impossible—until, I remember the dream of the bearded Indian man who initiated me just before I left for Tucson where I met his son.
And there’s more—Pir Vilayat held yearly, two week retreats, on both coasts of the US. During these retreats he discussed the ideas of a friend of his, the physicist David Bohm, who was also a friend of the Indian sage Krishnamurti.
So, if you’re born in the twentieth century in the United States how, exactly, do you label and cateroize these experiences, the sort of dreams and visons I’m relating?
And what are the odds life would guide you to the very person who could?
…The hope of apprehending the noumenon through phenomenal eyes is founded on a logical absurdity, what Bohm calls confusion and self-deception. The age-old philosophical effort to tune in on the purity of being and perceive it as it would be in itself without being perceived by the knower is therefore a vain hope. To approach the infinite cosmic intelligence, love, or insight of which Bohm speaks entails that the knower has stepped aside altogether in favor of pure nondualistic awareness. In the light of this necessity, Bohm’s priorities become understandable and seem inevitable. Atom-smashing confined to gross matter—the province of the particle physicist—is but a first step in our reaching out to reality, and it is the path presently pursued by the community of physicists. But Bohm runs far ahead of the pack. The shape-shifting (cf. Tibetan Book of the Dead) of subatomic particles (gross matter) will not yield up the secrets of the universe. All it can offer us is knowledge, restricted to the 3-dimensional realm, as we have seen.
Bohm holds out for atom-smashing of a subtler kind: to slow down and ultimately to still the shape-shifter’s dance itself, i.e., the death of the 3-dimensional thinker and his rebirth within the n-dimensional domain of consciousness. Such an event would usher in the dynamic state Bohm refers to, in which creation and dissolution and creation would flow through us simultaneously, like quanta of energy born and borne away in the split micro-second, ever welling up afresh without being arrested, clutched at, or sullied. The consequence—were such a task successful—is a new paradigm of the universe, of consciousness and of human reality. No longer is it a question of a knower observing the known across a gulf of knowing which separates them. That model of consciousness has failed us through the centuries in which we have stubbornly clung to it….
The above quote is from an interview the academic, Renee Weber, conducted with the physicist David Bohm. It seems more than coincidence that one of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century would be the one person to articulate my last vision almost word for word.
When I met Pir he smiled and said I looked like Humpty Dumpty, which was a pretty accurate description of my state of mind at age 26. He also told me I was in the tradition of the prophets, which seemed absurd. But over the five years I studied with Pir, I recovered enough to retrun to school, to life, and to the task of making sense of it all.
Now compare the above quote with this passage from an ancient Hindu text Spanda-Karikas..
The first verse (of section 1 of the book) describes Spanda-sakti represented by the unmesa (emergence) and nimesa (submergence) of the Sakti (Primal energy)…it is the essential nature of Siva and also that of the emirical individual. Unmesa and nimesa are only figuratively spoken of as occuring one after the other. As a matter of fact, they occur simultaneously…This goddess is always engaged in exercising her energy…and yet always appears replete…In reality, nothing arises and nothing subsides. It is only the divine Spandasakti which, though free of succession, appears in different aspects as if flashing in view and as if subsiding…
The empirical ‘individual’ who seems to exist as a discrete subject in the 3D space-time grid is, in reality, the Aghoreshawar or Logos.
So, my ‘vision’ seems to correlate both with ancient visions of Siva as well as the QM (or Quantum Organics) of David Bohm.
…time to start clearing things away centuries of sand for that vegetable garden.
But let’s go back, for a minute, to that fabulous and famous Hunter Thompson quote about the wave…I left a crucial bit out…
…now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
That wave broke, I think, because the deeper, higher possibilities, those higher states of consciousness humanity was exploring, functioned differently and possessed different limitations than the more ‘normal’ previous states we were leaving behind. To explore and maintain and function within these higher states one must know it is valid to operate within them. In each, different actions are possible and impossible.
That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling ‘consciousness expansion’ without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him too seriously . . . All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours, too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create . . . a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody—or at least some force—is tending the Light at the end of the tunnel.
When things get tough, the old certainties, the old frames return. We were naïve to believe what we saw, what we knew to be true—that there is a force tending the light—foolish, gullible us. Truth seekers are nothing but pathetically eager cripples…
Hunter was partly correct though. We were ill equipped to deal with life’s grim, meathook realities for two reasons: 1) our naïvete and false innocence about the 3Dself and, 2) our lack certainty as to the validity of higher states consciousness, as well as a lack of expertise as to how to maintain and function within these higher states.
The Naivete of 3D Man… For Nietzsche, as Foucault reads him, history is the story of petty malice, of violently imposed interpretations, of vicious intentions, or high-sounding stories masking the lowest of motives. To the Nietzschean genealogist the foundation of morality, at least since Plato, is not to be found in ideal truth. It is found in pudenda origo: ‘lowly origins,’ catty fights, minor crudeness, ceaseless and nasty clashing of wills. The story of history is one of accidents, dispersion, chance events, lies – not the lofty development of Truth or the concrete embodiment of Freedom. For Nietzsche, the genealogist par excellence, the history of truth is the history of error and arbitrariness: ‘The faith on which our believe in science rests is still a metaphysical faith . . . The Christian faith, which was also the faith of Plato, that God is Truth and truth divine . . . . But what if this equation becomes less and less credible, if the only things that may still be viewed as divine are error, blindness and lies; if God himself [the truth] turns out to be our longest lie?…the genealogical method that Nietzsche pursues aims at exposing the self-interest and deceit that are behind human institutions and values… —Peter J. Leithart, PhD, Cambridge
Please allow me to introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste I’ve been around for a long, long year Stole many a mans soul and faith…
Pleased to meet you Hope you guess my name But what’s puzzling you Is the nature of my game…
I watched with glee While your kings and queens Fought for ten decades For the gods they made I shouted out, Who killed the Kennedys? When after all It was you and me… –Sympathy For The Devil, Rolling Stones
VALIS: Field Consciousness P.K. Dick coined the acronym VALIS (vast, active, living intelligence sysetem). From having read much of Dick’s diaries it is clear that by ‘active’ he implies the existence of an intervening, correcting force in life—a force that tends the light. But, by ‘active’ do we mean coercive or persuasive? And if ‘coercive,’ isn’t that imperialistic? And if persuasive, doesn’t that imply something more than a passive role for the created?
Here’s an evocative excerpt from Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin…
All I know about music is that not many people ever really heart it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours. I just watched Sonny’s face. His face was troubled, he was working hard, and he wasn’t with it. And I had the feeling that, in a way, everyone on the bandstand was waiting for him, both waiting for him and pushing him along. But as I began to watch Creole, I realized it was Creole who held them all back. He had them on a short rein. Up there, keeping the beat with his whole body, wailing on the fiddle, with his eyes half closed, he was listening to everything, but he was listening to Sonny. He was having a dialogue with Sonny. He wanted Sonny to leave the shoreline and strike out for the deep water. He was Sonny’s witness that the deep water and drowning were not the same thing—he had been there, and he knew. And he wanted Sonny to know. He was waiting for Sonny to do the things on the keys which would let Creole know that Sonny was in the water.
And, while Creole listened, Sonny moved, deep within, exactly like someone in torment. I had never before thought of how awful the relationship must be between the musician and his instrument. He has to fill it, this instrument, with breath of life, his own. He has to make it do what he wants it to do. And a piano is just a piano. It’s made out of so much wood and wires and little hammers and big ones, and ivory. While there’s only so much you can do with it, the only way to find this out is to try; to try and make it do everything.
And Sonny hadn’t been near a piano for over a year. And he wasn’t on much better terms with his life, not the life that stretched before him now. He and the piano stammered, started one way, got scared, stopped; started another way, panicked, marked time, started again; then seemed to have found a direction, panicked again, got stuck. And the face I saw on Sonny I’d never seen before. Everything had been burned out of it, and, at the same time, things usually hidden were being burned in, by the fire and the fury of the battle which was occurring in him up there.
Yet, watching Creole’s face as they neared the end of the first set, I had the feeling that something had happened, something I hadn’t heard. Then they finished, there was scattered applause, and then, without an instant’s warning, Creole started into something else, it was almost sardonic, it was Am I Blue. And, as though he commanded, Sonny began to play. Something began to happen. And Creole let out the reins. The dry, low, black man said something awful on the drums, Creole answered, and the drums talked back. Then the horn insisted, sweet and high, slightly detached perhaps, and Creole listened, commenting now and then, dry, and driving, beautiful, calm and old. They they all came together again, and Sonny was part of the family again. I could tell this from his face. He seemed to have found, right there, beneath his fingers, a damn brand-new piano. It seemed that he couldn’t get over it. Then, for awhile, just being happy with Sonny, they seemed to be agreeing with him that brand-new pianos certainly were a gas.
Then Creole stepped forward to remind them that what they were playing was the blues. He hit something in all of them, he hit something in me, myself, and the music tightened and deepened, apprehension began to beat the air. Creole began to tell us what the blues were about. They were not about anything new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.
A problem with the idea of an intervening deity is it may engender the belief all we need do to is wait to be saved, making us look outward for salvation rather than inward…
Everything had been burned out of it, and, at the same time, things usually hidden were being burned in, by the fire and the fury of the battle which was occurring in him…
Ravished, and full of God!
In the monastery of your heart and body,You have a temple where all Buddhas unite. –Milarepa
Drala…One of the key points in discovering drala principle is realizing that your own wisdom as a human being is not separate from the power of things as they are…When you can experience those two things together…then you have access to tremendous vision and power in the world…connected to your own vision, your own being. We actually perceive reality….
The term “exegesis” is most commonly used to describe a thorough interpretation of a biblical text, often based either on its historical context and language or on the revelation of its hidden meanings. Dick’s use of the term implies that he considered his experiences themselves to be a form of scripture, a story to be revealed, explored, and understood. Moreover, his exploration of those experiences is itself a form of continuous revelation, with no clear line between experience and interpretation. But since the experience is ongoing, the Exegesis itself becomes a key part of the narrative. In the Exegesis, Dick is telling a story to himself, and exploring the meaning of that story, in ever-expanding circles of narrative and interpretation.
“Tomorrow morning,” he decided, “I’ll begin clearing away the sand of fifty thousand centuries for my first vegetable garden. That’s the initial step.”
–The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich, P.K. Dick