the sadhu and the cave

Tell me about the dream.

I am sitting in the mouth of some cave high up above a rushing river.  It’s India, I know because of the woman in front of me. She’s a sadhu. A holy woman. Her forehead is painted ash white with a smear of crimson across her brow.

Dawn must have just broken because it’s fucking freezing and I’m bundled in a blanket. And my face is wet from the mist which billows in from the clouds which are still lifting from the cliffs.

I am waiting for the old woman to speak.  But I have no idea what I am doing there or what I have come to hear.

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What does she say?

Nothing, for a long time. But then she starts to hiss and shudder and it scares the shit out of me. And then she just says:

“What of you then?”

“What of me?” I throw back, but wearily.

“You are of the time,” she says wincing so that her face paint cracks into an ancient desert floor.

“Tell me of the time.” I whisper. And a sense of mortal dread haunts my gut.

Then the sadhu opens her eyes, piercing the darkness with two sparks of pure white light.

“This is the time. When two beings shall pass in the street. For one, the world is dying.  For the other, it is just being born.  And neither shall be able to see to the nother.”

I wait for a moment, trying to hold back the only question I know to ask:

“And which am I?”

Suddenly I feel my eyes being shut by some terrible force.  I try to keep them open but that fight lasts only a few seconds before I am plunged into a vast, impenetrable darkness. Beyond time and space.

Can you describe it?

It’s not just a place void of light, but one that is filled with what feels like infinite, inescapable nothingness. And yet this nothingness has some all-pervasive identity.  It’s hard to describe. But to say that it’s like a form of self. A knowing. An awareness. And I’m being fucking crushed by this sensation that…

That what…?

That there is nothing else. That everything comes from this. And that it is… me. Not me as my self.  But me as a fractal component of everything that exists.  And I know it is asking me to surrender.  But I don’t want to.

Why not?

Because this is something close to death.

Is that the end?

No. I can hear my voice ask the question again. “Which one am I?”

And I hear her voice too, but now its coming from somewhere inside of me.  She’s asking, “Do you see me?”

And suddenly it’s over and I’m back in that cave. And I want to answer, but I can’t speak. Because what I know for my self is the truth and it’s the most definitive thing, the most awful and saddest thing I think I have ever seen.

What do you see?

Nothing.  Nothing at all.

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[The core theme is the quote above that comes from a prophecy that in the end times humans will be divided into those who have chosen to fight for and perish within the system they believe to be ‘true’ and those who understand that there is an entirely new reality beyond the grasp of their intellect… but which they must believe in before they can inhabit it. And that in that time of this choice, we literally will not be able to see the other (because we’ll be vibrating at such different spiritual frequencies).]

Alan Watts: “you are the whole system”

Child prodigy, rebel icon, zen guru, Alan Watts was the philosopher king of the 60s counter-culture. At the age of seventeen, he experienced a mystical state which revealed the unity of spiritual and material worlds. And so began one of the most storied interior quests of the twentieth century.

During Watts’ lifetime his particular brand of wisdom pierced the conformist, Cold War society to appeal to the youth being drafted into a system they’d long stopped believing in. Besides leaving an indelible mark on the leaders of the sixties social movements, his council was solicited by corporations and the Pentagon. In this sense, Alan Watts was the ultimate cultural double-agent: a mystical trickster, courted by the same institutional elites who were fighting to sustain a societal paradigm that Watts was encouraging his young devotees to reject and transcend. 

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His enduring message asks us to see reality in a different way; to understand ourselves as components of a cosmic Self; the implications of which are different for every person whose life he has touched. Unfazed by his own shadow, and the one cast by the social order, he introduced a kind of commentary that was both ancient and ultra modern, and delivered it with an authenticity prized in today’s millennial culture.

I spent a lot of time with Watts’ writing and recordings recently and transcribed many of them into my journals.  Watts was without question, for me, one of the greatest mystical teachers of the 20th century.  Here’s one of my favorite Watt’s riffs from a talk in the 60s:

To control the world is not really what we want to do.

So if all explanations have as their function enabling us to control things, then maybe an explanation isn’t what we wanted. And furthermore, we can very simply see, what makes things complicated is explaining them. When somebody explains to you how a flower works… everybody stands fascinated. “How complicated that is. How clever God must have been to create that flower… to have all the complexity going.”

It isn’t complicated at all.

It’s only complicated when you start thinking about it. Because the vehicle of words is a very clumsy one. And when you try to talk about the processes of nature, what is complicated is not the processes of nature, but trying to put them into words.

That’s as complicated as trying to drink up the ocean with a fork. It takes forever.

So this intense complexity that we see in everything is created by our attempt to analyze it all. And so what we do, when we analyze, we use our eyes and ears as scalpels. And we dissect everything. And we have to put a label on every piece we chop off. And so we scalpelize and we get it right down to atoms…

There is no end to the minuteness that you can unveil through physical investigation. For the simple reason that the investigation itself is what is chopping things into tiny little pieces. And the sharper you can sharpen your knife, the finer you can cut it. And the knife of the intellect is very sharp indeed. And with the sophisticated instruments that we can now make, there’s probably no limit to it.

But in a way, all that is vain knowledge. In a way. Because you see… what it does is it gives the illusion that you’ve solved your problems. When have controlled certain things and you have solved certain problems. Practical problems. You say “fine, more of that please. Let’s go on solving problems.” And you create a world of people as we are today who are far more comfortable than the ones who lived in the 19th century.

But the problem is that we keep running into this thing that all constant stimulations of consciousness become unconscious. And when we take it as a matter of course to have certain comforts, then we switch the level on which we worry. When we solve a whole set of problems, people find new ones to worry about. And after a while you begin to get that haven’t we been here before feeling. Because we don’t realize we’re chasing our own tails, by a constant recurring process of not knowing who we are.

That is hide and seek.

That is the nature of what the Hindus call manvantara and the pralaya. The period of the manvatnara when the worlds are manifested and the period of the pralaya when the worlds are withdrawn from manifestation. In and out, in and out.

Ever more came out through the same door as in I went.

And the thing is to get to the point where you can see that you are doing that in every moment of your existence, with every tiny little atom of your body. You, now at this minute, you see, are the whole system. Of inning and outing.

In other words, you often think perhaps… maybe a long long time ahead I shall reach the point where I wake up from manifestation and overcome the world illusion and discover that I am the Supreme Reality behind all this diversification. My friends, there is no diversification. In other words, what you call diversification is your game. In the same way as you chop the thing and say it is made of pieces. Because you forget that you cut it.

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I used to like the Red Book for the pictures, until I decided to read it (1)

RB_book-2_107aI have owned Carl Jung’s Red Book since it was published in 2009. This is the legendary journal that he kept during a period of self-discovery and introspection that has been described as both revelatory and psychotic since its publication.

At the beginning, my copy was placed in our living room, open to one of the many entrancing images that Jung painted during this deeply private odyssey into, what he termed, “a confrontation with the unconscious.”

I hate to admit this, but I became one of those people who owned the book, but never read it.  And so one of the greatest and most intimate journals of mystical illumination sat like some literary trophy on display in our living room.  Often discussed, but only in the most banal of degrees.

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Until a few months ago when I felt this deep pull to start reading Jung’s words.

So the book migrated to my office desk and then began traveling with me to cafés and weekend trips. I am sure it looked ridiculous, or more probably pretentious, carting around the 10 pound crimson red volume. But I didn’t care, I was so wrapped up in Jung’s writing that I used every spare moment I had to push through the text, marking it up with pencils so that I could return to transcribe the passages that were relevant to my work.

There is a lot I want to write about the Red Book and I will do that in a series of posts over time. But I want to start with a very simple and profound bit that comes from the Introduction.  It is a statement about the time in which Jung was writing (1913-1917) by Hugo Ball that places it very precisely in a parallel historical period to the one we are currently entering:

The world and society in 1913 looked like this: life is completely confined and shackled. A kind of economic fatalism prevails; each individual, whether he resists it or not, is assigned a specific role and with it his interests and his character. The church is regarded as a “redemption factory” of little importance, literature is a safety valve……The most burning question day and night is: is there anywhere a force that is strong enough to put an end to this state of affairs? And if not, how can one escape it?

I have long been interested in the system of historical cycles; since I first read Schlesinger’s cyclical theory in high school.  The idea that we can look at the intrinsic governing forces of a past time and then use those to map events in a current epoch is fascinating and takes the chaos out of human affairs.  History, after all, is a function of economic, social, and spiritual currents. And when one looks back at previous historical trends, they will see very similar patterns occurring.

For many, these could be alarming.  Especially when we trace the migrant waves and shifts to intense nationalist politics that precipitated World Wars I and II, respectively.

But I am focused on much more subterranean forces. These are the ones that precipitated the 1920’s and the 1960’s, and now these 20teens, as eras of unparalleled social change.

The birth of the jazz age, and all of the potent intellectual/artistic movements that were surfacing worldwide, is often overshadowed by the omnipresent psychedelia of the hippie era. But what they share in common is that amongst all the partying and re-identification, there was also a deep movement inward toward the mystical frontier.

And the person you find in the early pages of the Red Book is unlike anything you have ever read or been taught about Carl Jung.  Here, he is going full shaman and what he is unearthing and chronicling about the pre-material forces that guide and propel our material plane is of critical importance as we enter this time of confusion and fear.

Because as you will discover, there are one of two belief systems that you can adopt about our reality.  The first is that it is unpredictable, chaotic, and unpatterned; the product of a spectrum of disparate and purposeless forces which we have no choice but to protect our selves from.

Or you believe that there is an order to this world.  That there is a system of reality-generation that is comprehensible and regulated; chaperoned by some force unknown and unseen, but which has the verifiable tracings of a system in place.

Of course, there is an infinity spectrum that bridges these two paradigms. The fundamentalist Christian can share a certain brand of certainty about the nature of reality with the molecular biologist.

But when one turns inward from the world, especially as a result of a calling from that deep seat of the soul, they embark on a journey of self-discovery that is both torturously lonely and paradigmatically revelatory.  That is to say, what they learn about their ‘self’ and the forces that propel ‘it’ are ultimately understood as the same forces that govern the world.

This is the nature of systems theory.  And I believe we live in an immaculate and uncharted system designed to nurture, evolve, and optimize our human ‘being’.  Oh, so much could flow from this statement, and it will.

But for now I want to leave you with Jung’s description of the ‘spirits’ that drive and conjure the world we experience, but from two polar frontiers.  I challenge you to read this in the context of the time we live in and ask yourself what Jung’s vision holds for us in this time. (I have bolded the lines I marked as important in my transcriptions):

I have learned that in addition to the spirit of this time there is still another spirit at work, namely that which rules the depths of everything contemporary.

The spirit of this time would like to hear of use and value. I also thought this way, and my humanity still thinks this way. But that other spirit forces me nevertheless to speak, beyond justification, use, and meaning.

But I did not consider that the spirit of the depths from time immemorial and for all the future possesses a greater power than the spirit of this time, who changes with the generations.

The spirit of the depths has subjugated all pride and arrogance to the power of judgment. He took away my belief in science, he robbed me of the joy of explaining and ordering things, and he let devotion to the ideals of this time die out in me. He forced me down to the last and simplest things.

The spirit of the depths took my understanding and all my knowledge and placed them at the service of the inexplicable and the paradoxical.  He robbed me of speech and writing for everything that was not in his service, namely the melting together of sense and nonsense, which produces the supreme meaning.

But the supreme meaning is the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come.

Read Part 2 of the Jung series, here.

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what i believe

i have come to understand that my reality is generative, not deterministic.

i mean we do not live in a paradigm that is set and pre-determined as we are taught. but rather, one that is generated by the inputs (thoughts, feelings, actions) of the human beings that are generating, or transmitting, it.

further, the engine that generates this reality – from the transmitting being to the experience they are having – is something we have come to lazily call ‘consciousness’, but which is actually a much more quantifiable factor, which can be described as vibratory frequency.

reality is a generative construction that moves from the inside out.  not the outside in.

two points about that:

  • the best way to understand this way of seeing reality is as an algorithmically-driven platform. in other words, reality is created by highly tuned formulas that convert non-material impulses to a material experiential realm.
  • this is confusing for many because we currently inhabit a paradigm that is actually highly deterministic (ie. for 99% of humanity, their experience feels very much beyond their own power of creation). and that is because humans have been conditioned to believe that that is what reality is; something that is generated from outside of them.  so we are generating a deterministic reality paradigm. a very tricky business indeed.

so the vast majority of human beings believe we are born into a world paradigm that they cannot change and which they just have to accept.  this has unquantifiable impact on the way that we live in the world and what we believe is possible.

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the first step toward a reboot of the human operating system is to teach our people that the reality paradigm is generative and thus transactional: which means that we are in a constant state of negotiation with the reality we are experiencing.

it is created by, and for, us.

this is a revelation of the highest (r)evolutionary order. it means any single individual can gain agency in the process of reality-creation by learning about the power their thoughts, emotions, and actions have in creating their moment-to-moment experience.

because what we are experiencing is a direct output of our vibrational state and it can change moment-to-moment based on the nature and content of the vibration we are emitting.

in other words: if reality is generative and transactional, it is transmutable.

the great problem is that certain groups have more generative power than others. and so it is that some can say, “this is your world, i am just living in it.” in most cases, these generator populations have no idea of the power they wield in creating the experience of others. this is by design.

understanding the nature of reality, and our ability to re-orient ourselves within it, will be the key determining factor of whether the human civilization escapes the extinction algorithm we are currently programmed for.

before the truth can be revealed…

“THESE rules are written for all disciples: Attend you to them.
Before the eyes can see, they must be incapable of tears. Before the ear can hear, it must have lost its sensitiveness. Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters it must have lost the power to wound. Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart.”

Mabel Collins, Light on the Path