Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Heaven Is For Egos

I'm going to cut to the chase here for once: religion is based on the preservation of the ego. I'm probably not the first person to realize this but it split my mind open a little when that thought occurred to me yesterday. I had been having a conversation with a relative about why they would like it better if I was a "Christian" and had asked what was so wrong with me that Jesus was needed to fix. She responded that it was more that she believed in a forever Heaven and wanted to spend it with all of her family and it's sad to think I might not be there.

While I don't believe the same things that she does, I understand her perspective. Discussing this with my partner, she seemed shocked that people really hold onto the concept of heaven. "Yeah, it's basically a scheme where you live this narrow life and most likely suffer in trade for your wildest dreams. Or something like that" I replied. After a pause she mused "it's like they want to have the same life forever". That's when the lightening struck.

"God graciously granted you life" so you feel like it's right to fight for life because "that's what god wants you to do". Essentially it's giving survival instinct a story to feel good about fighting to keep the ego intact. That of course is taken to the max with the idea of Heaven because that's eternal life and you can't get any better than infinity right? So they plod on in the course that feels like they are punishing themselves enough for "God" to approve. Our upbringing determines much of our view of god leading some people to much more extreme interpretations of the "word of god". What does this all have to do with ego?

Ego is the concept of one's self and literally is Latin for "I" - our personality, bodies, family etcetera etcetera. Religion states that we are separated from god and are his creations, each one unique. It's this uniqueness and separateness that empowers belief systems like Christianity. When everything is connected and you believe that consciousness is god, matter, the universe, an illusion as some philosophies teach -then you lose the need for all the things that religion promises. If you are already eternal as conscious energy then there really is no reason to get attached to a form because you are constantly growing and evolving as nature does. The interconnectedness of things also removes the need for strict moral codes because any violence committed is ultimately against ones self. Heaven and the "narrow path that leads to life and few there be that find it" becomes useless with only a shift in perspective to acknowledging that you are not your ego. At that point you don't need to hold onto it because who cares?

What happens when we die? I couldn't tell you for certain nor do I care any more. I told my children this past weekend that I could prove to them with their Bible that an eternal hell is a contradiction because no child should have that shit crammed into their head! If sin is what separates you from "God" and "love covers all sins" according to Proverbs 10:12, then how can any reasonable person argue that hell could be eternally separated from god? It's asinine but it give the ego something to cling to because that's what the ego does - tries to survive usually revved up by the perpetual fear of the unknown.  If your ego is steering the ship and it doesn't feel safe you aren't going to sleep too well until you find something that sets your mind at ease.

I was astonished at how it had been staring me in the face this whole time and I didn't realize it - the difference between religion and spirituality really is ego or no ego.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election 2016 - Disaster or Opportunity?

Didn't see that coming did you? I have to say on the one hand that I'm rather shocked but on the other, I'd have to have been delusional not to see it coming. I'm talking of course about Donald Trump winning the presidential race in the United States of America last night. Many people in my life, both online and locally, are feeling like the universe is about to close up shop in a really awful display of narcissistic self immolation. I'm only 33 so I certainly don't claim to know everything but having walked in a different world for many years please let me offer some perspective. 

I was raised to be fiscally, politically, religiously and morally "conservative". That view point was accepted pretty much without question until portions of it began to unravel at an astonishing rate in the last few years. If you paint a convincing picture to a child they will believe just about anything until they experience evidence to the contrary. Because most of us live cloistered in a relative social bubble, we don't have experiences that would counter the beliefs programmed in as a children via the segment of society that was our reality. Our lives change but the reality rarely shifts much in nature.

It's about as easy to imagine things you haven't experienced being real as it is to believe that Harry Potter wizard land exists somewhere. However, if you happened to walk into a brick pillar quite by accident and ended up in a magical world, you would have to throw out your previous beliefs immediately or suffer some kind of brain implosion. The insular nature of humanity, us vs them, has kept us, usually through fear, from having experiences that provide a crack in our belief system. A friend sent a story to me the other day about Derek Black, a young man who was raised to be the new head of the White Nationalist movement in America. In the last few years he made a major shift away from his instilled beliefs leading to a public renouncement. While I wasn't raised to be a racist, I was raised to be just as judgemental but in a different way - unambiguous, color blind, sin. Of course the entire liberal ideology and it's consorts were fraught with sin because democrats were hedonists wanting to shake their fist at god and tell him to essentially fuck off. Or so the picture was painted...with a bloody coat hanger.

Derek was sheltered much of his life so when he got out into the real world and met some of the people he had held prejudices against, those prejudices began popping like balloons. Living in Los Angeles for my mid-twenties exposed me to many people I had been taught to judge. What I found was that they accepted me, quirky as I was, way more than anyone I had known in my past world. Around those years I also began listening to several podcasts that gave me a glimpse into social worlds I had never come close to which served to further compromise the foundation of my erroneous beliefs - "this" type of people are evil. The article ended on a conversation between Derek and his father Don, a leader in the white with a capital W, movement. Don is just unable to comprehend the shift in his sons thinking because it seemed so well engrained and makes sense to him. Kind of what it feels like having a conversation with my parents - how did it come to be like this? The key is, we haven't shared the same experiences. 

I give this story of Derek as a parallel to my childhood and the ability to have a radical shift in belief once stepping outside the bubble and can speak with some authority. Having been on a few sides of this humdinger of a fence, I have felt the same things that many are feeling now regarding the fate of the country - but from the other side. When Bill Clinton was running and in office, the steady diet of conservative conversation through Rush Limbaugh and others, made it seem like the world was going to spin off it's axis and be swallowed by a black hole. This of course would be the punishment for all the liberal things "Slick Willy" would legalize like murdering babies in the streets and being forced to go to gay sex clubs (of course I'm exaggerating but only slightly). Even when Barack Obama was running the first time, I was still askance in regards to a liberal agenda and wondered how it was going to harm my future. I still don't trust politicians but my belief in conservatism still was falling apart in 2008 and I was still very anti-liberal. While in California, I accepted government assistance for the first time in my life and began seeing things from yet another perspective.

Maybe it's because most of my adult life was spent hovering around or below the poverty line, but looking back now having opened up more and ceased throwing things out just because of a broad label like "democrat" or "republican", I've found that my life wasn't that much different under any of the Presidents that I can recall. That isn't to say that a president can't make things go down the shitter in lightning speed, but to say that much of the consternation and acrimony is due to rampant fear being generated and amplified by the media. During this election cycle I heard several people posit the idea that Trump was a plant to help give the election to Hillary or that the voting system is rigged in her favor - to which I have to ask, "why isn't she president then?" Is Secretary Clinton squeaky clean? Doubtful but do most people let their imaginations get away with them? Probably. We are so paranoid that we selected someone we didn't feel could be controlled to lead us. Stop and think about that for a minute. 

Our nation needed Bernie Sanders but we got what we deserved instead and while I think it's cause for concern, I don't think it warrants picking out a headstone. We've seen what is out there, the flagrant racism etc, and the only way I see to combat it is to live our truth but as peacefully as possible. I am not saying that we shouldn't stand up for ourselves, but when anger gets involved, it gives the other side something to feed off of like blowing on a fire. Donald Trump as president is four years to say "how can I be the best ambassador of what I feel America is?" It's up to us now. We cannot continue to rely on a few people to care for us or care for us. I have nothing against President Obama, but I want to point out that we have some major things happen and continue to go on under his "watch" like the Flint Water Crisis? Of course we did, because presidents aren't all powerful. Put yourself in their position for a minute and realize what you think being president looks like. It's not pushing buttons on a computer screen with unimpeded power but more like a lot of work and stress. 

This is time for all the millennials nursing their wounds having never had a presidential election go against them, to grow up. Let's all put on our adult pants and accept responsibility for the world we live in. Practice what you preach! What can you do to make a difference? There are a ton of problems that are so entangled I don't know how you would begin to start except doing it the same as untangling a bunch of snarled string. You just start working on a section that interests you and move on to another when that one has been sorted out. If you get some help it can go fairly quickly from a frustrating mess to a nicely ordered bundle. Live the reality you believe every day don't just vote for it once every four years. It's time to get involved with knowledge, love and an open mind. 

DON'T PANIC!
Douglas Adams, 
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Friday, November 4, 2016

Timeless

Simply being, such as when meditating, is what transitions us to the mindset of immortality. It's engaging with a belief that knows no limits and therefore is no longer concerned with the passage of time. What are we worrying about, getting old? Missing opportunities? Failure? 

Infatuation with the "passage of time" is based on a belief in a limited supply. If your money was unlimited how would your purchasing habits change? Would you go buy everything you could right off the bat? Then what? Boredom, depression, attempts to escape life?

Life is a choose your own adventure where we drop into characters from various backgrounds and experience an infinite number of things. When you take away the fear of lack, mentalities shift. Instead of saddling ourselves with things to provide happiness and security - make the most out of our little plot of earth, we can move through life with a purpose - to be present in each moment knowing that there is always enough (provisions, love, happiness, etc) to sustain our journey. With unlimited resources, why not be more generous? More adventurous? 

We consume things - snacks, cigarettes, Facebook, pick your drug, as a distraction from the lulls in our daily experience. In most moments all we need to consume is the air that keeps our body functioning but we hardly pay it any attention because all the worry and insecurity are running amok in our minds. Breathing and giving your attention to what is, is a wonderful way to shift your mind to a new set of beliefs. 

---

Watching with no hands, not helpless - timeless / grains of sand sans gravity - floating, flowing in endless eternity - focus on breathing, heart still beating / snap ties break, form change, pouring into a new vessel - a vehicle to restrain, contain, leave something temporarily to remain - birth control the flow all commas, no periods - everything gone in the blink of an eye / 13.8 billion years scaled down to a year, we only just arrived - far from having arrived / popped in to trash the planet December 31st, New Years Eve style. 
Time to let go, no restraints on restraint - hands up, hands off / holds barred, no barred holes / get a grip on yourself, choke up - feel something in this moment - awaken to eternity, enlightening yourself - the biggest loser winning, paradigms unwound. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chicago Cubs FTW

Everyone is buzzing at work today over the Cubs winning the World Series. I don't follow baseball (or any sport really) though I enjoy watching a game from time to time - so I'm not really riding the high many other people have tapped into but I am intrigued. When I was ten, I played baseball for one season and all the teams were named after professional teams. We were the Cubs, we sucked and I was a huge contributing factor. Throughout childhood I did very little sporting related activities and my coordination was like a folk band trying to play with a telegraph machine as their drummer - shit gets confusing. I wore both glasses and a black pirate style eye patch in an attempt to correct my lazy eye and lack of depth perception. Being able to tell how far away something is, is kind of a critical skill required for connecting a bat with a bunch of tightly wound strings covered in leather hurting towards you at frightening speeds. If my memory serves me correctly, I never actually hit the ball the entire season while at bat and only ever made it to a base by getting walked or hit by a pitch. 
Near the end of the season my mother informed me that we weren't going to do any more sports because it took away too much family time. I was disappointed but the whole season had been an exercise in embarrassment not just on the field, but in the dugout as well as I saw just how weird I really was. There didn't seem to be any way of changing my environment so I resigned myself to the fact that this was just life and at least it saved me from making a fool of myself. 
In 2004 the Red Sox won the world the series after 83 years of disappointment. This also happened to be the year where my life began the slow push that has turned into the momentum which has brought me to the present day. I could go into some kind of astrological, numerological bullshit about how I was born in 1983 but I don't really see what point there is to any of that stuff. What I took away from the Red Sox win was that no "curse" is final - everything is subject to change and any obstacle can be overcome. Now that the Cubs have also triumphed after 108 years of "failure" (someone quit pushing the button, for all you Lost fans ;) the lesson continues. This year has shifted many things for me and this win is only further reinforcement that no matter how dismal things may seem, if you keep moving,  eventually change is experienced. 
The "impossible" inevitably become possible given enough vision and effort in that direction. "Everything in this world is magic except to the magician" - West World. Flying, telecommunications, the internet - all were fantasies not even a few hundred years ago (at least in Western minds) but now they are common place. The beauty of the universe is that as we become magicians and understand what's behind the curtain, we discover that there are an infinite number of curtains to find the break in beyond this current veil. Everything is possible but what's probable is what you believe to be possible. Long losing streaks being broken reminds us that even though we may have "failed" in the past, the present moment is full of innumerable opportunities to create a different future. 
Congrats to the Cubs and all those breaking through the chains to the past. The present and future are only bound to repeat the past as long as you allow what has happened to be the only information you pull from. There is good news though, no matter how stubborn you may be, eventually life does its thing and continues moving on either taking you with it, or leaving you behind. As I was in the jungle contemplating what authority the god in me held, I realized that the only thing bigger than each of us is all of us. We are all connected to everything in some way and this isn't some bullshit hippie babble - this is scientific fact. No place in space is a complete vacuum and even energy that is "contained" still allows minute amounts to propagate into the beyond never completely dying out. Each of us is the god of our own choices keeping in mind that we are only a part of the infinite consciousness that makes up the corporate universe - God. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Living A Dream

Two weeks have elapsed since returning from Peru and it already feels like an entire life time ago. Lying in bed the previous evening I felt a little sad being so far away from the jungle, from a time that was such an adventure. Outside the bubble, you see life and yourself differently, then going back to "reality" and have to work to maintain the new vision. Thankfully I had recorded several hours of both am and pm jungle sounds and fell asleep last night to the chorus which helped reinforce the authenticity of what I am learning. 

A week and a half or so (maybe two weeks) after arriving in the jungle I felt like I had already been there for months and my return to "normal life" was an eternity away. One of the last few days in the wild it suddenly hit how what had seemed like an impossible dream had become a reality so solid that it seemed to have always been there. Now it seems to be slowly fading out of existence leaving behind only the knowledge and memories. Due to the experience being so different from my normal life, I might as well have been on another planet. It's like a dream except I have my journal, photos, tattoo and souvenirs to certify that this indeed happened. 

Hinduism states that life is a lucid dream but most of us perceive a difference between dreams and "reality". What separates the two? Persistence of a repeated environment produces a pattern that becomes what we accept as reality. Should your environment suddenly shift, it can feel like you are in a dream and that's how many people describe incredibly powerful experiences like witnessing a terrorists attack, meeting their hero or being in a foreign country. It's when something happens that seemed like a major incongruity with your expectations. The radical differences between "worlds" are hard to reconcile except through self-assurance of what we have previously experienced and believed to be real. 

A popular aphorism states that "time heals all wounds" but this is inaccurate. Time and distance are figments of our imagination yet they keep us bound to the past. If there is no real time but the present, then all of time is contained in it. What heals wounds is a change in perspective which we erroneously believe requires time to gain distance. If you choose to sit staring at your pain, no amount of time will act as a salve. Gaining a new perspective doesn't require any time to speak of, it only requires you being open to the unknown. I used to work a job that involved being inside people's homes most days and it never ceased to amaze me how different everyone's lives are. A change in perspective may only require going a few streets over, spending time with your next door neighbor - or even just reading an article on your computer. 

All of us are simply a different pair of eyes, a unique perspective in an infinite consciousness experiencing diversity for the sheer joy of creating. If you allow yourself to put the day to day reality on pause and realize each moment is what you make it to be, life begins to feel like a dream you are awake and making choices in. Experiencing this odd juxtaposition has been like taking a hammer to the glass walls of a snow globe screen on which is displayed that thing we call the world. As I passed through the broken shards, what I experienced on the other side was the product of long held dreams. Now being back in the world that has been my prevailing reality for thirty-three years, it's like the broken screen has been trying to glue itself back together to obscure what is beyond whispering "this is what your life is". Except that I'm not buying it. 

If the only thing separating "reality" from dreams is repetition then you would probably be convinced you lived in two worlds if you had a reoccurring lucid dream with a persistent set of environmental factors every time you "drifted off". What we perceive as real is constructed by maintaining a belief long enough that it becomes engrained in our subconscious neural pathways. It's hard not to live in the past because it has cut deep grooves to slip into and ride the familiar song. We hold so tightly to our perspectives out of fear of the unknown that we stop ourselves from growing. I can sit here and talk for the rest of my life about all the things I've done in the past or I can accept the infinite potential of the universe and know that anything is possible. Yes, going to Peru was a dream that seemed insurmountable but it was no more a dream than where I currently reside. What we focus on is what our lives become because focus comes from values derived from belief. Repetition of belief is reality. 

There is no reason to be sad about chapters of life coming to an end unless your belief system is intertwined with an inflexible vision of yourself. Each new experience should reveal / reflect more clearly who you are which intrinsically is unrelated to current conditions (gold is still gold regardless of market value). Most of my life has been far out on the fringes of what many would call normal (whatever that means). As I've grown into adulthood, I've spent a lot of time feeling like I was on another planet. As icing on the cake, I've had several volunteer experiences over the years lasting 1-4 months, that provided an even further fringe perspective. Each time I got out of my unusual, though personally standard environment, I was faced with new challenges and potential for growth. As a teenager I remember feeling like I would grow and then return to my parents home only to step back backwards into the role I was expected to play. What I didn't realize is that I was allowing this regression to happen because I felt I had no control over my environment or more to the point - I hadn't absolved myself of many core beliefs. 

Walking out of a large house set for a TV show the other day I felt like I saw an overhead view of myself and all the rest of the crew milling about like ants. "We are all actor just like Shakespeare said" I thought. "I'm fulfilling a role just as much as the actors are but with no scene breaks". If we choose our lives before they happen, it's like an actor giving permission before filming for another actor to hit them during the scene and then having their memory wiped. Without the memory of previously granting permission, the slap delivered during the scene will probably feel like an assault instead of acting. We lead these lives to learn things but we are never powerless. At least for me, part of this learning process has been that I am the actor, director and editor - I've always had a say but I was too afraid of the consequences because I lacked confidence in myself. Being thrust into an unfamiliar environment reveals a lot about you but it's up to you to determine what happens with that knowledge. Do you believe in your dreams even though they may have seemed real but now feel distant and vague? 

The challenge I have accepted is not to dwell in any place but the current moment full of infinite possibilities. A guided meditation I've used says "let the past turning into wisdom" which I really like. While I may encourage myself from time to time with memories, the more vital endeavor is to allow my belief system to be changed based off the experiences gleaned. Our memories are fickle things subject to the whims of perspective but who we are at the core, as it is revealed by life more fully - that is where truth and dreams come from. Focusing on yourself is not selfish if it is in the light of oneness knowing that if you feel something, it's what you are putting out there or have previously agreed to. Self-absorption and narcissism are products of a solitary, I-am-an-island mentality which leads to pain being prolonged. Pain filled folks usually have a long list of wrongs done against them that they would love to tell you about. Jesus said "only that which comes out of a man defiles him" which makes me think of the whole "the universe is a reflection of you" concept. When you view yourself as something separate in a world you are out of control in - self focus results in self pity and self hatred. 

Peru is fading and I can hold onto this experience and milk it till the udder wears out, or I can take the knowledge and allow it to change my reality so that each dream becomes permanent (or at least till the next dream). Wake up in your dream and then keep dreaming. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Standing Rock Reservation

The universe is changing, I don't care what you faggots say, and just know when I say "faggots" I ain't disparaging gays - just a bundle of dick sticks fueling this peaceful flame, 
Softened metals pounded till one and the same, chains into swords till we see that's not the way / Swords into plowshares, keep heating the iron bars - hammer away on these faggots till we've obliterated their arms.  
We're dumping black coal in our rivers, spilling black blood on the streets, and we all want to know who's policing the police!A badge and some blue don't protect you and your piece, unless you are serving with honor, got internal affairs peace. 
Ravaged so many times we've grown deaf to earth's crys, popped on our beats, shut the whole world outside.
Canceled the noise, flipped it back on itself - stuck in the middle of nothingness, hell. 
Protesters standing against the intrusions, giving voice to the sacred land, that We The People once deigned through design to let those indigenous regain, a portion of their own range - save face till a point we conveniently exercise eminent domain. / Didn't even make a reservation, through force took back reservations, without any reservations to stem our moral conflagration. 
All creation is groaning, buffalo showing up in droves, echoing the sentiment of souls hoofing the red road. / Hooves pound like thunder, the anger of the gods - God is as much a buffalo as a stranger on a Buffalo bound bus - one of us, all one - but we keep fighting ourselves, hating our diversities - misunderstanding without it, creation fails. 
That person darker skinned and / or dressed differently than you - you're afraid of them because you really think they're silently judging you. "They hate us but what have I done, they're free to do as they choose?" No more than you are to step out of your own shoes. Our history a mystery, filtered through context of societal belief heuristically. Self hatred running deep, haunted by unknown ancestry - it's time to pop the locks, adjust by forty two degrees - it's time to repent and change what we believe. 
Volunteer wardens of the water - safe guarding compounds imperative for life / temporary light houses - guiding a possible future in, focus fixed on the vision beaming from each warriors eyes / being wounded for a cause sometimes stronger than an armor piercing round - nothing more catalyzing than witnessing righteous heroes fall victim to societal apathy - quit fucking up the ground - gotta pull our heads out, sew the assholes shut - melt down even the rubber rounds, get consent and rubber up.
That black mother arrested trying to protect her young sons life, a brother choked to death for selling cigarettes out the pack - crushed like a menthol snap bust a cap "it's just a niggers life. I'm not racist I like black folks, you know, the ones who act like they are white."
These aren't just fucking parables, they're the stories streaming down my eyes. Events slanted by the media, no thanks I'll take cooroberated live feeds instead of lied - mandatory body cams for public officials - just a little light causes darkness to slither away, the darker it gets a mere candle looks more and more like noon day. 
Fuck off with your unjust immoral laws, military police, special weapons, tactics and attack dogs. / Nature is conscious, she's sending you signs, stampeding warnings - we've gone way off line / who's the criminal and conversely the hero - depends on who's sourcing the energy feeding the ego. / "the difference between tyranny and patriotism - only a matter of dates" - At first admired, adored - now booed off the stage / Gillette's first prototype, permanent shave, drop your head in a basket - no five o'clock shadow throwing shade in the grave. 
Standing Rock - one foot in the past one foot in today, enduring the ages - appropriately named / resolutely championing the cause / take the veil off your eyes - our freedom is a fraud, fiducuiarly fucocked, FUBAR dog. / People suffering - being beaten, bitten, maced, shamed - don't let their sacrifice go to waste / take responsibility for your world before it's too fucking late. 
Black lives matter, Latin, Arab too, we all bleed red blood - only cold blooded bleed blue. Roses are whatever color they put on some poor souls casket - a fucking tragedy this catastrophe that has become the human race case of a fucking basket. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

What Is Love - Baby Can't Hurt Me No More

"Perfect love has no fear, because fear has torment" 1st John 4:18


Yeah, sometimes I quote scriptures in the raps that I spit - I've got a proclivity to use any source of wisdom but only if the context is like good sex, a perfect fit.

Don't be embarrassed, it's how we all got here - Song of Solomon "her breasts are like pomegranates" - bet that book you steer clear. / "Steers and queers" probably the only things Texans fear (that and Mexicans of course) - bible in one hand, assault rifle on the other, cocked - pumped, ready to fuck you up - no homo of course.


Hell, I don't mean to offend, I'll try to hardly curse in what I've got to say about love in the upcoming verses / versus offending your sensibilities with words you consider sin, easily penetrating insecurity's thin skin / walls up, shut down obliterating potential - growth splattered on a flexible shield of comfortable denial - misconception like a magnum - converting live rounds into blanks - aborting the future, baby thrown out with the bath water - Westborough shark tank.


Before you shut me off, let me pregunta you a bit my friend - why does my perspective on a bunch of words get you so easily offend-ed? / Is god so small that it needs you to come to its defense? "I am a jealous God" had no problem directly slaying "his enemies" - swallowing them inside a trench. - Numbers 16


My choices are not a personal attack against you, unless you've chosen to look at everything slightly skewed - intentions misconstrued. Does fear creeps in when encountering things that counter your beliefs, ask yourself where is the love - it's not there banishing fear so by the standard of your own bible, you're not measuring up - cup half empty - even when it overruns it's not enough.


Reacting in hatred, anger and rage - the demon fear's supporting actors tormenting the stage / lashing out out of doubt, warped minds / feeling justified in judging "evil rappers disrespecting what's sacred in every one of their rhymes".

Planking - like hatred an idiotic fad / unless you're Plank lengthing - experimenting with laser beams / get the beam out of your eye and you'll see those motes you judged in others eyes were always a reflection of the log protruding from you - believed lies.


Quit judging, love yourself, leave the fear behind - "he who is without sin, may cast stones from behind this line" / stop thinking, just listen, to these words not of my mind - from my heart, to the lungs, vocal chords and finally tongue - speaking my truth one beat at a time.


"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" - Luke 6:45


I know you tune out, turn down, skip town when I let loose a string of f-bombs that seem indiscriminately thrown around - dropped like a moose munching in your zen garden while dropping a fucking deuce. / oops, another one slipped - did it burn down you're World? Nuke all the living? force the rapture, "split the sky like a scroll?" - impossible! Remember "no man knows the day or the hour"? / Know man, know woman - those bombs are just duds, sabots for whatever payload you concoct up. / That's Spanish for "with cock" - just kidding, just another chance to take a stab, bare knuckled jab - don't start bawling, I ain't brawling - nothing personal it's just my nature, a mindless baller, living in change forgetting the paper, - believing in love that it never fails - it's nature.


Thanks for your patience, if you're still with me, patience is part of love, a characteristic of this trans dimensional being, trans-porting like a trans am - sexy, I am not trans-sexual but why do you care what I am? Bless me / None of us stay in the same body, change shoes / experiencing different perspectives - transubstantiation, change views - death a fitting fitting room, tie a tie around your neck, hang up the old you /

"kindness, gentleness, not easily provoked", not trying to make you mad, just going with the flow / egos like soap bubbles, fragile as they float - uncomfortable words easily shatter just takes a poke - really, it's not that serious, I bet by now even Jesus has laughed at a few crucifixion jokes.


Stigmata, means nada - genuinely hoaxing life / an oxymoron unwittingly demonstrating the power of the mind / nailed through the hands? close but no cigar - affixed through the wrists - historically proved sincere beliefs - fraud / artistic license with the facts - fictitious portrayals of their lord accepted as authentic, genuinely infallible divine design / swallowing the bullshit whole, baby teeth can't chew - choking on the truth - hack it up or it hacks you / impressing suggestible minds like wax - mastering the narrative, spinning them up, creating reality with each stroke, the stylus struck, stuck - in a groove, Groundhog Day, a sample life - playing a programmed loop. 


"As a man thinks in his heart, so he is" - Proverbs 23:7


Trapped by the pursuit of making a name, looking to others to validate - valedictorian, feels great. But for how long? Dead space.

Dispel insecurities - fuck the fame / don't want fans fanning the flames, stoking an ego I'm working to change.

Idolizing figures, is a disservice at best - at worst you're like Stan - driving off a bridge, Eminem tattooed on his chest.

Statues don't grow, only weather with age, a figment of the past, captured but never accurate today.


Charity seeks not its own, it already found it's self, tapped into the internal well of will - artesian, love automatically pours out.

But that doesn't mean you become their supply, gotta "work out your own salvation" - you have the power, can't hurt trying to fly - throw yourself at the ground and miss - quoting a more modern scripture, wisdom from a Galactic Hitchhiker.


Extract the truth, take apart the defense - like unethical council exposed - the cage disbarred - cleared of all offense. / Quit prosecuting yourself for what you did in the past, love who you are - where you are dictated now by conscious vibration relative to how fast the others pass. / it's all relative - that's the ultimate truth, there is no "one way" except to accept we are all one - same crew.


Rough love - ain't the same as tough love -just another angle of - perspective, on infinity. / what boundaries you put up, to be respected of, enforcing with no gloves, gotta quit pulling punches. / you get beat up to learn, you got a lot to learn - it's not sadistic uh - just the evolutionary process of becoming better beings. 

Take my friend named Charity, she ain't a charity - she's such a rarity - only reflecting me - she never failing me. 


"Charity never fails, whether there be prophecies - they will fail / whether there be tongues - they will cease / whether there be knowledge - it will vanish away. For we know in part and prophesy in part but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away". - 1 Corinthians 13:8


Prophecies fail, knowledge might cease - that means what you believe might could be wrong or outdated at the least - the only thing to which you can solidly count  on - love and peace. / I love shaking things up, challenging myself to grow the pluck up, start writing shit down, help spread the love around.

Addicted to my diction, words give my soul shoes, walking around making tracks, you can follow for a spell if you choose. / please keep in mind as I wind down this rhyme, that you can never indefinitely follow another person - your sitting idling time / no growth just a fan blade spinning around a fixed point developing only a whine - wearing out over overtime.


Be fresh, like "steadfast love" brand new every morning - find acceptance in the air you inhale then exhale, pass it on.

Deaglan Forrest Quinn, I'm stepping out / the collective consciousness has no name - I AM, present - infinity the present we all live out.

Chew On That

The Celestine Prophecy, one of the many amazing books I read in Peru, painted a very powerful scene that at first I almost over looked. My haste to gobble up information discards and overlooks many nuisances - the intention life is trying to convey. Experience is life, so then why do we rush through it? The scene I'm referring to involved several priests in a monastic environment at meal time. Each priest ate slowly and deliberately in silence as if even masticating was a meditation.

I thought about how I eat - mostly like a Mike Mulligan's steam shovel Mary Anne. There is little enjoyment of what I am ingesting and any gratefulness is perfunctory. Scientific studies have shown that plants actually do have consciousness to some degree or another and react to threats or violence to themselves or other life. Supposedly if you thank your food for its sacrifice (like many native cultures do) the nourishment accept it's fate with something akin to peace. Call this hippy bullshit but isn't appreciation actualized through respect as you take the time to soak in all the elements of life that came together for you to enjoy something?

At work there is an entire department devoted to keeping a table stocked with various snacks all day. I've noticed that when I am bored or stressed, I mindlessly scarf down all kinds of food. My belly gets full but my mind only temporarily is satiated. I've found that as I slow down and actually chew my food, I can take the time to appreciate and be grateful for all that was necessary for me to have this experience. The incredible miracle that life is, the labor, knowledge, machinery etc required to bring these things to me - it's incredible if you stop to think about it. When we feel lacking in some way, we try to fill ourselves up. It's like a car with a broken gas gauge, stuck on empty, hard not to overflow when filled up.

This applies not just to food but to all of life. Are you thinking about the future trying to rush through daily interactions such as conversing with other humans so that you can get to what you "really enjoy" and then rush through that? We need to savor everything, even pain, because otherwise we're missing the point of life. Stop for a minute and close your eyes (after you've read this section) and allow yourself to accept that you are everything you need. Love yourself and the life you are living - it's a choice. Everything can change as you accept that anything is possible. Take in a deep breath and then slowly exhale. As you draw in air realize you are literally filling up with energy provided by the universe. Then as you exhale, release the vision of how you see yourself through your breath, not as you are now but as you can be. Now you can close your eyes and try.

Each respiration is a victory - another moment that you have been a part of. Slowing down and thoroughly chewing the little morsels life provides, we can extract much more joy and peace than was previously realized. It's all right there, you just have to tune in. There is no more over indulging in an attempt to drown out that aching need and fear. You are enough and everything else is a bonus that should be shown it's proper respect.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mumble Rap

Earlier today I came across a video shared by a friend on Facebook on the topic of "mumble rap". I didn't know there was a word for it so I watched the video (which unfortunately I can't seem to link to). This is my addition to a comment thread:

Thanks for sharing! I really appreciated what he had to say. Like was stated earlier - essentially, different strokes for different folks; however, which folks do you want to be like? I am no musical expert and will admit that I lack a lot of knowledge on the entire scene but I can say that based off of what experience I have (mostly learned from Pandora) - I appreciate the older hip hop much more. The spirit of the artists was different. It had issues, sure, but it was about growing and believing in yourself. With an improved self image usually comes an improved posture and a different way of speaking. 

Look at the posture of most of the people you run into on a daily basis and how they speak. My experience is that it's more prevalent in women than men (imagine that), but most people I run into don't carry themselves with any kind of confidence. When it does appear to be there, it's usually put on. The vocalization of speech in America sounds like a motorboat engine running out of gas - like life is just so hard they can barely muster a perfunctory attempt at communication. 

I possibly read too much into everything but the experience of my own journey has shown that as I've believed more in my ability to continually grow into a better human, my posture and elocution have changed. I also don't like listening to some of the same songs as before because what you enjoy is a reflection of the beliefs you have about yourself. 

It seems like the point isn't so much about the music but more about asking people to wake up to how they are perceiving themselves. If you haven't watched West World, I'd highly recommend it. The ideas about humanity being investigated through the show are quite fascinating. Hopefully not giving anything away if you haven't seen it yet, but I feel like it's about waking up to the reality of how programmed we've been and learning there is something else out there. It's  like seeing cracks in the experience with something way different on the other side and the only thing that holds us back is our own hesitance to break away from the programming. Videos like this guys are proof that there will always be someone who wakes up and spreads light. 

I don't take his thoughts as judgemental whatsoever, but more of an exhortation to rise up and speak life into the world. Speaking of speaking, how do you think it would sound to conceptualize, visualize speaking life with the words in your heart - no need to postulate, stopped posturing lately / posthumously date me, stepped out of my mind - break free - new man with no plan, no fears and no strands of attachment to safety. Just a position I'm switching / intercepting the ball, dodging all the offensive offensives, I'm a runningback running back, touchdown - no sack / keep'n it classy in the end zone - no flags - fuck this game and the fame - won't break my back anymore for some whack cracker jacks, you're loaded dice and stacked decks are powerless once I quit placing any bets - best not to assume, let things show you what they are - honest reflections of who you do think you are. 

Wall Street, been invested in the wall worn around my heart - Kevlar vested / hold my chest in - banked on a future I could rest in - restless, inside this skin - gotta connect the east and west again - Berlin been - can't wait to go again / divest my vest - no stress as I swan dive out of the known into infinity undressed - the unknown / knowing that all I can know is what I already know unless I leave the past behind / the present and future undefined, moldable, no potential outcomes thwarted by limiting the universe / let matter become fluid - ride the wave one quanta at a time - improving that vision of myself with each crest that breaks releasing visions of something better - free to play like vegans, no steaks / always available 24/7, no breaks / love for yourself - unstake, your tent, disconnect from this web in the world, we've been embroiled - burnt flanks / mumbling programming - no thanks / leave them toothbrushes - drop shanks / dropping this note now - meditate on love / give thanks. 

Light in the Darkest Peru

Dark Peru

I told my children that I was going to be in Peru for six weeks and they didn't say much. Later that week I was informed that they had been reading the story of Paddington Bear and when he said he came from the "deepest, darkest Peru" they all found quite it amusing. "That's where Daddy is going". While I was gone a dear friend emailed to say he was praying for me because Peru had much spiritual darkness. Apparently Peru has a wrap that I was unaware of but I would love to share my experience with you of something different - possibly proof that experience is what you make of it.

From a physical standpoint, the jungle is very dark. The Andes mountains blots out the sun as it sets in the west causing night to set in around 6:30. This coupled with the prolific canopy creates a pitch blackness on nights when the moon is hidden or obscured by clouds. Despite these facts, the forest is teeming with life and there is a great sense of peace.

*the following descriptions of people are purposefully vague so as to protect their privacy.*

How Did This Happen? - New Year

I awoke January first of this year feeling heavy and muddled. It was a new year and despite all the work I had put in for years, I still felt at a loss. What was I doing in life? The daily connection to a highly altered reality through Facebook was only further dragging me down so without any premeditation or long soliloquy, I unplugged and deactivated my account. It was time to focus on getting my shit straightened out! Let the record state here that I am prone to quote the Bible a lot not because I take it as the inspired word of the "one true god", but because I think it is a perspective on history.  It contains good spiritual teaching if used in the right context - something religion misses out on. Maybe I do it out of familiarity, or maybe I get a bit of joy from seeing a different side to something that had previously held such huge weight in my life. Whatever the case - you have been warned. The "Apostole" Paul said something about "laying aside the weights that so easily beset us..." and this was my goal. The FOMO culture of the western world has caused us to look at life through a wide angle lens. We try to take everything in, with maximum depth of field because we have no idea who we are or what we want. As you look through progressively longer lenses, what you are imaging becomes much closer and more detailed as everything else falls off into obscurity. Call the union, I'm pulling focus...

My entire life has been a journey just like everyone else's but the last three years in particular have brought about a major shift in my consciousness. At the beginning of this new chapter, I was talking with a guy in my occupation who shared about going down the Peru to find healing through the plant medicine Ayahuasca. I had never heard of it and in fact knew next to nothing about psychedelics except that they were "drugs and therefore evil". My friend didn't push it on me but suggested I do some reading about it online which I did. When I got to the part about shamans I thought "sounds interesting but not for me". Being raised in an uber Christian family anything that wasn't expressly Christian was reminiscent of Bobby Boucher's mamma in The Waterboy -  fill in the blank " is of the devil". Shamans were definitely somewhere at the top of that list.

Fast forward two years to a camping trip in the Utah desert with my girlfriend. Much of my fear had slowly been abating as I began to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes you can't understand something until you experience it. I did not understand love or feel it whatsoever until I held my first child. That love for my child caused me to question the reality I had been living in with such an angry, strict god. I'd tried really hard and still felt like I was failing and it didn't seem like there was any way out. Now being in a healthier relationship with myself and my partner, I was beginning to learn more about love and was open to trying something new - mushrooms.

I like to think of myself as cautiously wild - meaning I love to discover new things after doing my due diligence, researching to determine the risk factor. Like Niki Lauda in the movie Rush, I find it stupid to take over a certain factor of risk but also am totally willing to do what many people deem "crazy". The night in the desert was magical in every way possible and at one point I had a sense for the first time that there was my consciousness and then there was my mind. They were not one and the same. Due to the proximity I had allowed through years of ignorance, it was like those little toys people keep on their desks with all the ball bearings hung from wires demonstrating transfer of energy. I realized that all I needed to do was find some separation from what my mind was perceiving so that my heart wouldn't be constantly beaten up. This was much easier conceptualized than done but it gave me a glimmer of a better life - one of peace.

I can't explain how it happened other than I finally started to accept that I didn't know everything about life but my mind began to open up as logic won out. Just because someone has an opinion doesn't mean it is right for me but shutting out other perspectives out of fear is foolish. Much of religion is based in fear and doubt of our own ability to chart a course that is expedient for growth because the general consensus is that that will lead to anarchy. The great failure in this idea is when we perceive other peoples actions as imposing on our personal freedom we consequently impose on their actual freedom. Homosexuality being a prime example of this in America but I digress. Around April of this year I worked with my friend who had first told me about Ayahuasca and mentioned that I had an interest in participating in a ceremony. My trepidation had diminished significantly due to my experiences with psychedelics as well as participating in a few sweat lodges a native american friend had invited me to (something I was also very wary of at first). Experience had continued teaching me to quit being so closed off and judgemental while not jumping head first into whatever came my way.

After participating in two Ayahuasca ceremonies where I had very powerful experiences that helped make much more sense of life and spirituality (in particular putting the Bible in a proper context) I felt a desire to do a dieta but didn't know how I could afford it and also didn't know if I was quite ready. A dieta is where you eat only very basic food for seven days (rice, boiled potatoes, yucca and green plantains - all with no salt) while sitting alone in the jungle connecting to yourself and nature. A guy I met at the ceremonies had told me about a volunteer program where I could spend a month in the jungle helping put on the retreats. You don't know if you don't try and despite the fact that it seemed like such an outrageous thing to do, I figured it would never happen if I didn't at least try. A few days later I submitted an application and sat back for a couple of weeks waiting for a reply.

There was an entire interview process after which I was accepted for a season three months out. The day after being accepted work dried up for a month and a half and I began to panic. Not only was I not going to be able to do what I had gotten my heart set on, I didn't know how I was going to pay my bills period. It seemed like I was doomed to be disappointed so I released the idea to the universe and said "if its meant to be, it will happen". About a month before theoretical departure, the money came in and work picked back up but only after I made a decision to not give up on life even if I didn't get what I wanted right away. Until I was actually on the plane, I wouldn't allow myself to get excited because I was afraid that would set me up for disappointment. Pretty silly really when you consider how infinite the universe is and full of potential but I'll get to that later. Due to the graciousness of a friend, I was able to fly on a buddy pass, first class down to Lima - a wonderful experience to say the least.

Before I dive into the rest of this I want to make a statement: numerous people who heard about where I was going commented on how lucky I was and how they wished they could do that. I hadn't left yet but as it got closer to being a reality, I realized how easy the whole thing actually had been. When people would make these comments I started wanting to say "you can", but I hadn't actually proven it to myself yet. I don't mean this is a cocky way just matter of fact - you totally can do anything if you have a clear vision and proper frame of mind. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and the entire thing seemed like a distant dream that was impossible. I kept having to release the understanding of how it was all going to work out, while learning to just do my best and trust. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of the potential for life but I want to assure you that what you think is impossible is only impossible because you believe it to be. 

Lima

I've never traveled outside of the US by myself and didn't realize how unprepared / lacking in confidence I was. For the record, I suppose I should state that maybe I do throw caution to the wind a bit when I feel I'm on the path I should be even though my mind is freaking out. That "certain risk factor" is really just some combination of cumulative information fed into my gut and then going with that. It's not about trying to be "that crazy guy" but because I know that if I don't act now, I'll over analyze the shit out of it and never do anything.

Initially I had planned to hang out in the Lima airport for twelve hours till my connecting flight to Puerto Maldonado but after going through customs I realized that was probably a stupid idea if not impossible. The airport gave me ten minutes of free WiFi allowing me to check in with my partner and ask if she could locate a hostel nearby. She sent a screen shot of one a mile or so away and then the connection promptly terminated. As I stepped out onto the curb into a completely foreign world I was overwhelmed. Taxi drivers began an overwhelming chorus of shouting trying to solicit me which is something I cannot stand. My instinctive defense is to just said "no" then ignore / put distance between me and the peddlers. Not only does if give me space to think for a minute, it also sets up the idea that I'm not going to be pushed around by them. I began trying to figure out how to walk out of the airport and let me just make an observation: airports seem to be designed to discourage pedestrian traffic probably because most of them are in shitty parts of town. My frugality and lack of comfortability in the world had gotten the better of me a few times and that was the night to learn to let it go.

Standing there assessing the situation I got the distinct feeling that this airport probably ranked highly on the list of unfavorable surroundings and at this point two things happened: a light drizzle started which I really didn't feel like wandering around in, and a cab driver who I think was following me began insisting I let him drive me. "I'll walk" I responded tersely. "No, no my friend. It's very dangerous" he insisted. The fact that he was following me didn't make me feel like he was necessarily a great person to be taking safety advice from. I should also mention that when I say cab driver, I'm being generous. His "cab" was a very beat up, very old Nissan Sentra with no markings of a taxi company. Peruvian Über just has very low standards. I told myself. "60 Soles" he said sensing a crack in my resolve. Ah, that was my bargaining chip, "I have no sol" I said thinking that would get him off my back. "I'll walk." "30 soles" he countered. Fuck, that actually sounds like a good deal I thought. "I have no Sol" I repeated slightly exasperated. He seemed confused and rightfully so because as I learned a few days later, no one calls them Sol - its always Soles. The irony of a red head hollering that he has no Sol lost on both of us and it didn't even hit me for about three weeks after. "I have US dollars" I said weakly". "Ah" his face lit up "muy bien. I take you" and with that we were hopping into his rattle trap.

Hostel Hostel, Where Are You?

What should have taken ten minutes ended up taking over an hour to find the hostel. This included using offline GPS on my phone (after I switched the voice to Spanish) and stopping to ask about four people where the hostel was. It was one A.M. and the people we queried for directions were about the only ones out and they seemed wary. The streets were largely abandoned and though I wondered if we would ever find the place, I felt good that I didn't walk. After circling the same block four times I asked to be taken back to the airport but he insisted "I will find it" and what was I to do, jump out into the ghetto and walk back? Besides, we were having enjoyable conversation as best as possible with his broken English and as I would discover in the coming days, my paltry Spanish. To Richard's credit, that's the drivers name, the hostel was in this odd square block of town where all of the entrances save one were blocked by gates they close at night making it difficult to find a way in. Now I was really feeling glad I didn't walk! The idea of laying down and putting this craziness behind me energized me some but it didn't last long. A sign on the door said "reservations only". Fuck! "I know a place" Richard assured me. His track record at finding this hostel didn't inspire confidence so as we passed a building with a gigantic darkness piercing sign screaming "Hostel" I asked "what about that one" desperate to not be trapped the back seat of a vehicle that felt bound to fall apart at any moment. "Oh no, that one is very expensive and only for two hours". Jesuswhat have I gotten myself into?

A few minutes later his car made a horrible sound like the clutch just failed and Richard muttered something as we coasted up to a hostel. Please be it I thought. "This is it" he declared seeming to act cheerful but he was kind of pissed about the car. They took credit cards and at that point I didn't give a shit how much it cost - I just wanted to go to bed. Not having any change I ended up giving Richard a $20 paying the 60 Soles he had asked for in the beginning. He bid me goodnight, promised to come get me at twelve the next day to take me back to the airport then climbed into his car and somehow it limped away from the curb.

I stayed outside on the curb and began smoking a cigarette. First class flight to this cluster fuckI am out of my depthMy thoughts were interrupted when a man who had been sitting in the lobby came outside and started talking to me. I guess because he seemed to have pretty good English I was more than happy to talk to him. He asked a few questions and then got down to business "do you like marijuana?" Uhhh, WTF? "How much is it" I asked, curious. "You can smoke in your room" he said not wanting to have the conversation out on the sidewalk "come on, lets go up there". I should have just ended it right there and gone to bed but for the longest time I was living under the delusion that I was being polite when I was just lacking a spine. Up I'm the room he began listing prices. "That sounds expensive, no thanks". I begin looking for an exit strategy. "What about coke? I can get you coke and there is a very beautiful woman in the next room". OK, so now within five minutes I suddenly am being offered the entire playground. I've never been "wild" would it really matter to just do it once? For a second I visualized it and was totally turned off by the prospect. The whole point of the trip was to grow not muddle my mind with self gratification. "No thanks!" I said as firmly as possible. "I can have the coke and weed here by 8 tomorrow" he pressed. "I'm good. Not interested". He looked annoyed and left the room. I figured that was the last of it and went to bed.
The next morning he came and knocked on my door to see if I still wanted the weed and coke. I had noticed the night before that he would talk fairly quietly seemed perturbed when I responded at a normal volume level so I just used that tactic again and he disappeared fairly quickly (incidentally, I discovered that his English seemed to be limited to the topic of drugs and hookers). Twelve o'clock rolled around and after waiting for ten minutes with no Richard, I figured it couldn't be that dangerous during the daytime and hoofed it to the airport. It wasn't till I made it through security and was sitting my gate that I realized my phone hadn't updated for the time zone and I was an hour early. Ooops!



Puerto Maldonado - Heading In

I suppose in an attempt to try and mitigate the shock factor, I gave myself two nights in Puerto Maldonado, before we took the two hour boat ride up the Madre De Dios river into the jungle. My first impressions were rosy until I tried finding food to eat and water to drink. The streets, especially at night are bustling and noisy. Most transportation happens in moto-taxis, or motorcycles / scooters and is therefore not the bubble experience driving in a car is. Honking, that's something you'll notice right away. I'm sure it's partially due to being easier to hear the horns without a layer of glass and metal surrounding you, but it's mostly just a societal difference in communication. 90% of the time horns are used in America, someone is laying on it in anger. In Puerto Maldonado, it's an entire language. There are honks from taxis overtaking you as an alert / advertisement. Honks for cute ladies. No one stops at stop signs unless absolutely necessary so there are many short bursts of warning honks delivered as vehicles continue straight through intersections. Driving far different from America but it's kind of fun!




Arriving In the Jungle - Not Close to Arrived

My short time in PM revealed that my Spanish really sucked and what is considered passable food is generally pretty awful. By the time we got to the retreat center (an additional 45 minute - 1 hour trek through the jungle after the boat ride, carrying my severely over packed army duffel bag) I was quite dehydrated and very hungry. That coupled with some anxiety of spending the next month with people I didn't know and in a strange environment threw me for a bit of a loop. For the next few days while we set up I felt like my brain was in a fog. While attempting to hang up a hammock with a knot I use nearly every day at work, I found myself standing there just staring at the rope dumbfounded. One foot in front of the other and don't think about the whole journey was my motto. Eventually I remembered how to tie the knot.

You might be wondering why I'm giving all of the details that seem to be ancillary to the journey with Ayahuasca in the jungle. As I've come to accept, everything is an opportunity to learn and grow if we maintain a conscious awareness of the "coincidences" in life's daily events. It's not just about ingesting something to alter your state of consciousness. One of the retreat staff members reminded me when I made a comment about the "upcoming first ceremony" - she said "your ceremony has been going on since you got here", and it was true. I only told few people the complete nature of my trip because I didn't feel like dealing with negativity. A couple said "so you're going to do drugs in the jungle? Call it what it is man." While another friend felt that Ayahuasca was a short cut, the lazy man's road to spirituality (if there is such a thing). Everyone is entitled to their opinions but I assure you, if you look at it as medicine instead of "getting fucked up" or "tripping your balls off" in a recreational sense, your intentions will be met. These ceremonies aren't for everyone but it is work and the medicine reciprocates your intentions. It's not just about the moments you drink a cup of nasty tasting sludge but bringing the rest of your life into a different light.



Book Worm / The Holographic Universe

On the shelves in the staff quarters was a small but wonderful library of books on topics that I mostly found quite fascinating. The first week one jumped out at me immediately called The Holographic Universe which described many "metaphysical" phenomenon from a scientific, quantum physics perspective citing many studies. Something about the way it was written allowed me to finally start opening my mind because it took the trepidation of evil out of the equation and replaced it with logic. It was the perfect foundation and preparation for the other seven books I would read.

Intentions

The friend who introduced me to Ayahuasca had told me to have a mantra of some kind to help keep me centered during ceremony in the event that things got too heavy. As we talked about the upcoming ceremonies with the retreat staff, the mantra concept was clarified a bit more for me with the idea of holding an intention. The word intention kept being thrown out there and I was a bit confused so I asked the retreat leader for clarification. She explained "it's whatever you have already been working on in your life. Holding that out in front of you". This environment fosters empowering you to take charge of your life and elevate yourself to a new level of belief and self-acceptance. For years I had envisioned myself dimly as a haphazard, on again / off again intention. I was now going to be faced with being intentional about my growth and would encounter many visions and opportunities that would challenge how I viewed myself vs how I could actually be. 

"Everyone is Nice Enough..."

09/08/16
This is how a paragraph began and went on - ...but I feel really out of place and while I am not miserable, I'm not really happy or comfortable either. I don't want to be searching anymore so I'm not sure if I want to do any ceremonies - but it also seems foolish to not take part if I am here. I really have no clue what the fuck I'm doing in life or where I belong. Trying to fit in and navigate a world that doesn't make sense is getting old. What is the point of any of the shit that we do? Solomon seemed to nail it on the head when he said "all is vanity".  It goes on a bit longer with some blathering which I'll spare you from. The problem as I would discover the next day is that I was operating under the delusion that I can't fit in as myself with a side helping of feeling obligated to fit in. 

09/10/16
The word "family" was thrown out there today which I internally reacted to. My general experience with that label involve control and abuse but then, a dear friend popped into my head that I consider my sister. I realized that I could choose my own family and was under no obligation to anyone to be anything other than myself. I determined to just do my best to be as genuine as possible and accept whatever happened. In one of the first days something I did was commented on in a positive light and I responded with "well I didn't want to piss anyone off". This woman raised her eyebrows a little and asked "and what if you did piss someone off?". The question caught me off guard a little and then without thinking I replied "I guess I would just go home then" as if worst case scenario was automatically the outcome. There wasn't much a response other than a possibly surprised laugh and "okay..." Maybe it's because she's from a different culture but I was rather perplexed for several weeks trying to interpret this one individual's expressions. For a second I wondered if I had said the wrong thing but then almost immediately something told me that it didn't matter. As much as I doubted it as a likely occurrence, I was okay with going home be that the consequences of doing my best. I've begun to accept value in who I am and am no longer willing to be unauthentic. My mantra has always been "don't do things to others that you wouldn't want them to do to you." It's like the negative of the Golden Rule, still effective to a large extent but is linked to an unempowered mind leaving you short of what could be. The entire exchange lasted all of about a minute and a half but like many other short events would reveal, a sudden new flash of insight. Line upon line - that's how this experience went.

The Four Agreements

One of the other volunteers suggested a book to me called The Four Agreements. It's no surprise that there are in fact four agreements the book asks you to make: 
  1. Be Impeccable With Your Words - Recognize the power of your words. Meaning what you say. Saying what you mean. When you don't make other people have to guess, or outright lie - you start to accept who you are because you are being honest with yourself when you are honest with the world. Reality is a mirror of what we put out there to it. If you want to grow, it will show you how to deal with your problems but you have to accept they are there before you can grow into a better version of yourself. Dishonesty stunts and protracts our growth.  
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally - Everyone has shit they are dealing with and assuming that you are somehow that important to someone else's universe or conversely say that their opinion should bear weight in your life is either very arrogant or very unempowering. Obviously this isn't saying that you don't have empathy for someone being upset with you if you do something injurious to them - that's how we grow, from the feedback. It's just helping you realize where the lines should be drawn by doing unto others as you would have them do to you. Instead of taking a negative view of yourself and everyone else, with the positive perspective - you are taking the feedback and growing as you quit looking at other people with judgement and anger because you know that as you respect yourself, you automatically respect others. Self respect is different from narcissism because it is based in not requiring fulfillment from others having tapped into it depth within. Narcissism is based out of a vortex void spun up by insecurity sucking all of the energy out of everyone around them. *This of course should only be construed as my interpretation and lessons learned from the book and should not be misconstrued as the author's point of view or sentiments. It's a fantastic book that you should read for yourself.*
  3. Don't Make Assumptions - This agreement helps you put the second one into action. When you don't make assumptions, you short circuit the programming of your past. Living in your past, as a book I will mention later - You Are the Placebo - says, is what ultimately keeps us bound, from evolving - transforming. Living in the moment, being aware of the past but not living in it knowing you have the power to make choices in your life - allows other people to grow as you do because you are now getting an accurate reflection. Most of what we feel from other people, we actually hold against ourselves which empowers the hurt "from the outside". Having a direct line into the past creates a port for negativity to dock and download an entire shit storm on you that may be completely in your own mind. When you quit assuming what other people mean and instead share how you feel and ask if it's accurate, it shines a light on the true state of affairs.
  4. Always Do Your Best - For those people worried that this is a book to spawn sociopaths, the last agreement puts that in check through admonishing to "always do your best". Best meaning in the pursuit of the most self sustaining version of yourself which precludes doing harm to others. 
Believe In Your Dreams

For the past 20 years or so I have hardly had a dream that I remembered. My mental viewing screen seemed to have a full house scrim pack in between my eyes and the projector. Oddly, I had had an eidetic memory in certain respects as a child. Replaying things over and over in my mind, usually traumatizing events I wished I could go back and fix, prompted analyzing them repeatedly trying to figure out how I could have done it better. So much guilt was involved in these vision type experiences, that I had to learn to ignore my imagination and slipped into a mental fog. When people talk about dreams and I've mentioned that I almost never dream, someone invariably says - "of you do, you just don't remember them." Maybe they are right but it only is frustrating because what was I supposed to do about it? The night of the 11th I had a dream that was quite vivid. People at work were freaking out about being hacked or something. It didn't make sense in the context of the work I do but I looked over and saw this guy who is very practical in my department, walk over and does the simplest thing - unplugs all the networking cables from the router. With a half sarcastic tone, he remarked with a grin "did that solve your problem?" As I was about to walk out of the room I turned and decided to holler his favorite catch phrase back at him. "Dave" I called. He looked up and before I could continue he responded "believe in your dreams." Holy shit - Dave is psychic!! Of course when I woke up I realized that it was the universe trying to send me a message. The ease of disconnecting from the programming of the past is like unplugging a CAT 5 cables - that keep plugging themselves back in. You don't need to be hyper vigilant just aware of your thoughts as they go by and when you lose focus, bring yourself back to that center of being as you make a choice. 

For all of my life I had found Jesus' words saying you must forsake all (parents, children, lands, etc) to follow him a bit harsh. What's the point then of life? It's certainly not about acquiring things, it's about existing because we can and if we can, why not find the most joy you can inside yourself and the natural world that creates to be interacted with? Jesus went on to say "who is my mother and my brother - they that do the will of god". Suddenly it clicked - it's not about being cold hearted but we are all in charge of the decisions we make and just because someone lays claim to you, doesn't mean it's legitimate. I must lay down attachments to all the things that we use to prop up our egos and accept myself for who I am - a unique expression of consciousness, no better or worse than anyone else simply a human evolving. My intention for the first ceremony was becoming clear - unplug from the programming (as I would learn later, programming can be traded for "the past" and mean the same thing.)

Guests - The Lavanderia

Five days of setting up passed fairly quickly and as I focused on rehydrating I began to feel more normal and happier about things. I still felt somewhat uncomfortable around everyone and kept to myself a good bit. The first round of guests were going to arrive so we headed in to town to shop for groceries at the market, drop off laundry and pick up the guests. I was told I was going to be responsible for picking up the laundry which caused me a great deal of trepidation upon being informed that I would have to make sure the lavanderia did their job properly because they had a history of apathy and lack luster performance. I probably wouldn't have minded so much except that on top of feeling responsible for quality controlling someone's shitty work ethic, I would have to figure out how to accomplish this in Spanish which at this point I felt like a deaf mute. I had heard there was a good (relative to the rest of the food available) pizza restaurant called El Hornito in town  and after discovering my cell provider offered free data roaming internationally, clothes dropped off I was excited to navigate the mile for some decent food.

I can't speak to the rest of South America, although I hear the environment is fairly similar elsewhere, but in Puerto Maldonado many businesses close in the middle of the day - or just whenever they damn well please. Predictability is hard to come by so you'd better not get too tied to an agenda or you're bound to be disappointed. At 2pm its quite hot and I guess El Hornito doesn't serve lunch (there were no hours listed either on line or on the building) . After walking a mile in the hot sun, I found out that I would in fact, not be having pizza. Exasperated I went to the restaurant next door that advertised air conditioning and ordered a salad and an alfredo - both sucked. Further exasperated I went back to my hostel seething against the town. I calmed down finally and just figured I would inform the volunteer facilitator that I didn't wish to come back although I didn't know how that would be received since it was starting to sound like this was a required activity. At least if I stayed in the jungle I could have water to drink and rice to eat and I wouldn't feel like a bumbling idiot.

The next morning I was ready and waiting to go pick up the laundry with the facilitator and made a point to inform her and get it out of the way, that I had no desire to come back to town. She didn't really respond and seemed stressed so I figured I would drop it for the time being. We got to the lavanderia and as had been foretold, they had fucked things up prompting a rather vigorous back and forth in Spanish. How the fuck do they expect me to deal with this I wondered beginning to stress out more. After several minutes I was asked to ride in a mototaxi down to the boat with the laundry that was done and wait there. Eventually the issue was resolved and I was relieved to hear that I wasn't going to have to deal with laundry. Dodged a bullet - or so it seemed. I didn't feel like having a confrontation with someone I barely knew who already seemed stressed out and who's blood pressure clearly had been raised by the feckless laundry personal so I decided to let my earlier comment go.

Thankfully, life doesn't let you get off easy when you need to learn something and in the middle of the boat ride I was informed that it was part of my responsibility to come to town and help out. I replied that I never had claimed to have good Spanish skills in my interview and the volunteer agreement had specifically stated that if you wanted to go to town, there would be opportunities but you would be required to pay your own lodging. Going to town was not stated as a requirement and while I wasn't trying to be difficult, I thought it unreasonable to demand that I pay for something I don't want to do and didn't agree too. I've been run over by people many times before because I was too afraid to stand up for myself but there no such thing as failure if you learn from what happens. It's not that it was a huge expense ($30-50ish) for food and lodging each week) but the principle of being respected. If I agree to something I will do my best to hold up my end but I'm not a child and even if I was, children deserve to be respected just as much as adults. My supervisor thanked me for my honesty and agreed that what I had stated was true and fair and we would discuss it later. I didn't realize it at the time but this was just one of the many little events that came together to construct what would be the core of my work - finding my will / strength and changing my perspective.



First Ceremony

The day before my first ceremony I finished The Holographic Universe and my journal entry states "after reading...I have begun to question many things." Questioning is an important part of changing your erroneous beliefs and I was beginning to feel my mind open. Friday came and I was sitting in the maloka for the first time part anxious, part eager / curious to see what would happen. After about two hours of nothing, I got blasted with a whole bunch of really disturbing images that I had seen one other time and couldn't make heads or tails out of them any better than the last time. I was okay afterwards but felt extremely drained and had no desire to do another ceremony in the coming weeks...or maybe ever. After being asked to help one of the retreat guests make it back to his treehouse (that was an adventure all it's own), I sat in the light of the nearly full moon and hoped it might take some of the negativity away. Out loud I spoke to what, I don't know, consciousness I suppose - "I don't get any of this. I want to be the best I can but I need help because I really, really don't get it." A few minutes later, the two women who I reported to came to make sure I was okay and the guest had gotten home. They encouraged me to go to bed so I went back to the volunteers quarters and laid down under my mosquito net. 

Thoughts were racing around my mind and though I wanted to ignore them and go to sleep but that was impossible. There had been a name that I kept hearing in the visions and I figured that if I couldn't fall asleep, I would gently look and try to see if any pieces would fit together. I couldn't recall anyone with that name in my entire life - till suddenly I did and a bunch of things clicked as memories came back. Many other thoughts rushed through my mind including seeing myself as a sad little child. My thoughts turned to my children and how I would never want them to feel the same way about themselves that I had which suddenly gave me much more sympathy for that child in myself that I had become indifferent to. I imagined what I wished someone would have said to me when I was a kid (not that I probably would have believed it).

Ayahuasca has a tendency to make you "purge" and that can be out of one end or the other. Best not fight it and lose control at the worst possible time but instead go when you the need presents itself. I was feeling the downtown pressure so I quietly crept out of bed to the bathroom down the path a pace. It was 3am, I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon and there was no rush so I told my body that out loud and then began to tell myself the things I had wished I had heard, to the little kid in my mind. Sounds kind of nuts I suppose but speaking these words helped me let go a lot of the sadness and realize a different truth. A while later after my posterior had started falling asleep, I figured I was done and crept back into the house. Not ten minutes after laying down I had a sudden urge to head back to the bathroom. I began debating whether I really needed to go because I was concerned about waking people up with the creaky floor. "Would you make one of your own kids suffer because of being afraid of what someone else thought?" I heard. No, I suppose not. Like a ninja I snuck back to the bathroom and decided that for a little while anyway I needed to practice some kindness with myself. 

Second Ceremony

In both religious and spiritual circles, I've heard people talk about mystical experiences where they meet a being of love and feel much more peace - this is what my intention was, to have one of these experiences. Unsurprisingly, I didn't manifest exactly what I wanted because what I wanted was a quick fix though I didn't realize it at the time. I was being pushed to love myself before feeling it from anyone else. A quick blast of love might feel temporarily better and put some things in perspective but could also lead to a life of constantly seeking that externally. An hour or so after drinking I vomited for the first time in like 5 years. Some images from the first ceremony began appearing again and I was a bit frustrated. Hadn't I dealt with this already? Eventually I would learn that things only come up again if there is a reason. 

I then encountered what I would call "the personification of the mind of the identity that was forced on me". As odd as it sounds, I had a conversation with that individual and finally told him to get out of my house for disrespecting me. I started to see through the manipulation and bullshit that has kept me powerless in my own life for years. It all came out of guilt and shame of myself. The police were called and I had the mind man escorted away. It was exhausting and I was frankly kind of annoyed. 

Consensus is that it's much better to sit up through the ceremonies but no one is judging you if you lay down. Feeling a bit of self pity, I lay down to try and recoup but something in my heart told me to sit up. I complied for a minute but felt like there was no juice left in the batteries and laid down again. This second time I felt the impression stronger and sat back up. Where was I going to get the energy for this? If there is infinite energy in the universe, then it's just a matter of tapping into it right? How do I tap into it? I sat with these thoughts for a few moments and all of a sudden in a flash it came to me - will power. 

Of Water and the Spirit

Side step for a book that was important to this ceremony. Malidoma Patrice Some, was kidnapped from his tribe in Africa at five years of age and forced to go to Jesuit seminary to be a priest until he ran away at the age of 20. Incredibly he found his way back home and then was required to go through the initiation that most young men do around the age of 13. Despite being raised in completely different cultures and worlds, I found I could relate with many of the feelings he described as he felt his identity stripped away at the seminary. The tribal world he describes sounds so fanciful, reminiscent of Harry Potter, that it was almost hard to believe. As I said though, my mind was more open and I was willing to consider that there is a good chance that I do not know all that is out there. Maybe I only see what I believe in? 

This is another book I highly recommend and also one that came along at the exact right moment for what I needed to continue growing and healing. 

Second Ceremony (cont)

Thoughts about will power suddenly shifted to Malidoma and the will power he had to exert to get through initiation. I began thinking about initiations and what the point of them is. Most tribal rituals are difficult because they show you what you are capable of. Enduring hardships reveals strength and changes who you are as a person. A youth goes out and comes back as a young adult because they now perceive themselves differently. People in my childhood culture believed that their children were adults after crossing some arbitrary thresh hold of thirteen years. However, it doesn't really work if you keep treating them like a child while expecting adult behavior. Sure, you can learn the model of expected behavior - a dog can do that - but it leaves you without confidence and needing someone to always tell you what to do because of the intense self doubt intrinsically intertwined. 

Looking for the source to tap into, I felt a little burst of energy hit me and decided that I was not going to let the whining stop me. I would battle my mind the rest of the ceremony and sit in the same position till it was all over. Not having an elder to put me through an initiation, I wondered who I could be mentored by - who was my guide? I've come to believe that god is not an external concept but something that each of us possesses. But obviously there is something greater than each of us right?...The only thing greater than each of us is all of us. If you look at everything as one giant interconnected wave form, we are each just an average of all the other parts. As we grow, we raise the average and transform our worlds. Near the end of ceremony, I felt like I needed to battle it out longer and decided that I would sit there (if I was allowed to) till the sun came up around 5-5:30. The sun was a good enough authority for me for that moment.

After the shaman closed out the ceremony and bid us all buenos noches, I continued to sit there wondering if I would be able to do this. Time was hard to judge but I would say maybe 45 minutes after everyone left the maloka, I was hit with a nearly overwhelming wave of exhaustion and nausea. I wanted to run to the bathroom again and the old mind went to work. "You need to be kind to yourself remember? It's okay to get up and go to the bathroom. This is stupid anyway". That battle went on for a short time till I realized that initiations aren't about kindness - they are tough love. I had a vision of being in front of an old west gallows where a man was about to be hung for murdering my family. At first I questioned whether I wanted to be there and if I even had a right to want the man to die. Looking at the man I suddenly felt compassion and forgiveness. Did that mean that there are no consequences? No, it just means that you don't go after vengeance. Rules and boundaries are necessary because they are a reflection of the will of the whole / majority and their state of evolution.

This was my proving ground and it wasn't about being kind anymore, it was about growing up, putting away childish things. I fought through the suffocating wave, nearly passing out as my body temperature spiked and I began pouring sweat. Not long after, it subsided and I felt a lot of peace as I waited out the sunrise.

Staying Back From Town

My request to not go to town was respected which I greatly appreciated. The time to myself would be nice - or so I thought. At the last minute one of the retreat guests asked to stay a while longer which management agreed to and I was asked to cook food for both myself and the guest. The path I was on had been serving up what I needed to keep going so I figured that despite this not being what I had planned, it was probably what was most expedient to my growth. 

Spending one on one time with this guest I soon learned that we had a very similar childhood in many ways and were able to share good moments of conversation about overcoming into a new life. I was grateful for the little synchronicities that the universe had been serving up.

Locals who work on the grounds were the only other people there besides us three gringos (an additional guy was in dieta during the trip to town) when a rain storm swept in. These locals only spoke Spanish and were trying to communicate to me one afternoon that we needed to hide because a tree could come crashing down. I was completely confused at first but finally understood what was going on and followed them to hide underneath the maloka. It's raised off the ground at the front about four feet so we huddled there while I wondered what I should do about the guest in the tree house and the other one in the tambo doing dieta. We weren't supposed to interact with people in dieta unless absolutely necessary and I figured this circumstance dictated contact. Drumming up whatever Spanish I could think of, I communicated that there were two guests out there and I needed to go get them. I could tell they understood me because their faces instantly changed to oh shit. Frihole and I took off running down the path as I hollered for and collected the two guests. I don't mean to be patting myself on the back at all here but after being put on the spot I realized okay, I am capable of more than I thought

The Empty Oatmeal

No guests were picked up by the staff (they would be coming the next day) so our food menu was thrown off slightly. In our weekly staff meeting, I posed the question of what to cook for breakfast the next morning. My roommate and I were told to "freelance it". While prep was going on at 7;30, one of the women in charge came to the kitchen seeming some what out of sorts. Eyeballing my prep work she asked why I wasn't making quinoa salad. I got the impression she wasn't thrilled with what we were making (oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon, scrambled eggs and fruit smoothie) but I decided I wasn't going to get stressed about it. We were only doing what we had been told and if she wanted something different then it should have been stated the night before - or now if it was that important. 

Quit making assumptions right? I wasn't going to try and read her mind but I was more than happy to make adjustments if asked to. My response only garnered a look that was also hard to read so I continued what I was doing. A few minutes later I hear Lee being asked / lectured about "why would you make oatmeal without fruit salad? It's an empty oatmeal". Not trying to be a smart ass but just meaning to explain the logic of why we had chosen what we did I replied from the sink area below "I ate oatmeal almost every day of my childhood for breakfast and never had fruit salad in it." From what I recall (or more accurately what I thought I saw) was her head whipped around to me and snapped "I don't care. I want a fruit salad so make one." It caught me off guard and stung a little but then I realized that this was the kind of stuff I had become unwilling to tolerate - people getting upset because of things that were not verbalized or even were contradictory to what had previously been verbalized. Standing at the sink I laughed realizing that this was just another opportunity in the workshop.

After breakfast was cleaned up I asked the two heads of staff if I could talk with them which they graciously obliged. I explained as honestly and calmly as possible how I felt and that was the end of it. Might sound kind of silly and much ado about nothing, but standing up for myself was something I never had learned to do very well. Maybe you've caught it already, but it took me till my first day back at work in the States to realize that I was still taking things personally and while standing up for myself was a valuable lesson, it was merely a stepping stone. More about that later in Reintegration. 

Perfection

This really should be a separate post but I'll try to do it succinct justice. I, and many other people have been laboring under the delusion that there is such a thing as unambiguous perfection. American's use the expression "practice makes perfect" which I take significant issue with. German's have a similar expression but I believe it captures the reality of life much better - "practice makes the master". If you work at anything hard enough and long enough, you will develop some amount of skill and mastery. It's not like one day you suddenly never make a mistake again but instead, you step into greater areas of confidence and know how to turn the "mistakes" into something of beauty. Much like dancing, if you are not rigidly locked in a position, you can adjust to any turbulence around you and turn it into art.

A universal consensus on anything is going to be essentially impossible to find. You can't please everyone and usually when you try, you just piss off the lot. So who's opinion should be valid on what is good enough from you? Your's alone should be simply because you have to live with the consequences.

Acupuncture

Another volunteer showed up the second week to offer her training in Chinese medicine to the staff members as her service. I had only experienced acupuncture once before but was looking forward to seeing what would happen. In the intake I was asked numerous questions including if I was feeling any of the emotions listed. Sadness popped out so I mentioned it and was told that I would receive a needle to help release that. Not knowing what to expect, I just laid there quietly after all the needles were installed and the woman left the room. The next thing I knew, I felt tears welling up in my eyes and was a little embarrassed but since I was alone, I let a few slip. After about 20 minutes she returned to check on me and I mentioned about the tears trying to be nonchalant. "Oh I forgot to mention that might happen. It's totally normal and okay" she assured and then left the room again. The words felt like a permission to let it out and as soon as I was alone, I felt like sobbing but nothing came out. My chest was quivering and I was breathing short sharp breaths. I would later discover that even my breathing, a subconscious act, was being stifled and controlled by my past.

The Purge
09/23/16

Many different purges are available through natural medicines but I had the pleasure of experiencing Wancahuisacha. Google it, I doubt you'll come up with anything. Which isn't too say "ooh, look how hipster" but to point out that these people know things that most people have no clue about. My roommate and I both drank a tea cup full of liquid sitting in the Maloka and then waited for 20 minutes. After the time for metabolizing was past, we began to methodically drink cups of water giving our empty stomachs something to expel and I presume, dilute the acid. It took me forever to vomit anything up but when I did, it was a lot. Honestly, I don't know what it did for me except further reveal my resolve to heal and go forward on this path.

Third Ceremony

All that I had seen and learned from the first two ceremonies rather filled me up and while I totally didn't think I had arrived, I wasn't sure where to go from there with my intentions. I felt much more at peace and extraordinarily grateful so I asked one of the organizers if it was okay to just have an intention of "being open to whatever else I may need to learn right now?" "That's totally fine" I was assured so I went into the third ceremony simply to just be there and see what would happen.

After the last ceremony where I sat crosslegged for 6+ hours, I decided to cut myself a little slack an hour or so in and laid down since I wasn't seeing anything anyway and just rest in the moment as it was. Maybe I had been pushing my personal work too hard and I shouldn't run myself ragged - I reasoned. The truth was this also served as a defense mechanism against being frustrated that other people seemed to have these crazy experiences during ceremony and I felt shut out somehow. Several hours in I felt prompted to sit up. Once I did a thought came - maybe you just have to try to see. Kind of like opening your eye lids. Well it was worth a shot, so I focused my energy on mentally looking. Lots of faint images started flashing by but too dark and too fast to understand. Despite trying to avoid it, I began felling incredibly frustrated and started to question. Was there something wrong with me? Did the universe have something against me?

Suddenly I noticed green on the other side of the filter that obscured my mental imagery. While I couldn't make out any clear details, I had a strong impression that it was the Mother Ayahuasca I'd heard people talk about. As I tried to find more definition and ask why I only hear silence, and see things dimly, I noticed that there was unfiltered light spilling in as if under a door and around the edges from gaps in the door frame. In an instant, I realized that I was living inside immense walls that I had constructed to keep parts of myself safe even from myself. She wasn't going to beat down my doors, she was waiting to be let in. I felt the respect that real love gives instead of trying to force it's own agenda. There wasn't a rush to perfection, there is no such thing - only growth. True love doesn't force itself on you because it knows you will get it eventually: love is patient, love is kind, love is not proud... finally made a lot more sense to me.

That was pretty much the entire message of the ceremony for me until I sat there for a few hours and wrote a piece called Consciousness Revoluting. Just knowing that I don't have to be afraid of being overrun, used and manipulated helped calm down my mind and heart a lot setting the groundwork to receive more in the future. I was being shown the love that was there for me but was refusing to receive for myself from myself.

You Are the Placebo

Somewhere around this time (09/29/16), I began reading You Are the Placebo and became engrossed. If I wasn't working, I was probably reading that book. Growing up in a quasi-penticostal household, I had been told that God did miracles, but the specifics were a bit fuzzy and though I heard "eye witness reports" of such miracles, I never had seen one for myself. There have been some events in my life that I couldn't explain except to dismiss it as a coincidence, but never anything like bones growing back. The book cites study after study where the power of the placebo effect is demonstrated, and then draws parallels between the technique and how believers of different faiths do "super human feats".

The crux of what I have been learning recently is that we have more power than we want to accept because it makes us responsible. If we accept authority for our lives it seems to open the door to hate ourselves more if we fail when going against the tide. At least before you could blame it on something else - other people being shitty, "it's just the way life is" etc. Taking responsibility is the first step to looking in the mirror because you have to be willing to face yourself completely. After you've quit fearing the reflection and realize the opportunity for growth and change, you can start to making different decisions with confidence because your beliefs have shifted as your source of contentment has moved back inside yourself.

Posturing

When you go to a strange environment, with people you don't know - there is a tangible atmosphere of everyone sizing up their companions right off the bad. Some kind of Lord of the Flies type shit - but on purpose - maybe we get off on it, who knows. This human propensity to analyze and categorize each other is what reality TV uses as the clay to form a story from. As soon as we got on the boat I was scanning, and I think it's a safe bet to say everyone else was as well. In fact four weeks in, my roommate read what he had written about his initial impression of me. Things like "stoic, guarded, controlled" are the impression I gave off which is more or less what I've tried to be in the past.

It came up in conversation because I was putting into practice not being aloof and guarded as much and had initiated a dialogue in the kitchen during a rain storm. Your posture signals a lot about you as a person but most people seem to over look that. On the boat that first day, and then every day since then, I had noticed his exceptional posture as part of my daily tickertape personality analysis of everyone - but it was also inspiring. Growing up with former military parents, I was ragged on a lot about my posture but when I tried, it physically hurt to stand up straight. Recently I've come to see how my body and mind / heart are a reflection of each other and sometimes the change needs to be fought for on the outside before the inside accepts it. My outside was just reflecting my mental perception of me and now that my perspective has changed, my body needs to be brought into alignment with that. How would someone who had nothing to hide or be ashamed of - who accepts themselves and is kind, how would they cary themselves? I have a picture in my mind and it's one that I have to practice everyday till it becomes natural.

Changing how you stand, changes how you see the world. Think about this, why do photographers go to extreme angles, or vary the height period? It's to say something different, "put it in a different light". I was told a while back by someone who loves me very much and I couldn't get offended by - that I looked like a velociraptor with my big head hung out on my long neck. Not painting a very attractive picture. As I found what it felt like to change how I carried myself, I realized that it made me look at life more straight on instead of with my head hung down peering up at it. The pain in my neck was from the stress of being afraid to look life in the eye - fear and avoidance of mental pain manifested a physical pain. Pain is simply a signal that gets your attention to further your growth as you leave attachments to things that never remain behind.

My buddy had stated at one point that he felt like he didn't have much to offer as far as talents - to which I could relate. Hell, in the first week when they asked if we had any skills that we would want to teach a class on, my mind was a gaping blank spot. What could I teach anyone? Ironically after not being able to remember how to tie a knot the first days in camp, I eventually taught a class on five different knots. It went quite well and was fun! While the rain poured down that afternoon, sitting in the kitchen, I shared that I had been inspired by his example of good posture and that some times it's the simple things that can have a profound impact. There really is a lot that can be said for leading by example. You don't have to force anything on anyone, in fact that's never going to work, the best thing is get your own house in order and let that cast whatever influence it may.

I don't mean to wax long about posture but it really struck me how profound something so simple as someones persistent posture can say and potentially inspire. I used to be so spun up on having to "change the world" because religion doesn't accept it's own self. Now I've seen how just being me, constantly refining and growing is the best thing I can do for myself and my world. I am way more conscious of my own posture and in turn my body which I felt completely uncomfortable in for years.

Fourth Ceremony

My intention for this ceremony was to step out of the walls I had seen the green light on the other side of. I wanted to experience this presence I had heard others describe as pure love. Sounds nice right? Instead what I got hit once again with was a barrage of visions where the programmed subconscious past was fighting to remain alive. To have a lasting help beyond a fish for a day, I needed to learn how to fish for myself. It's really not so much like fishing but more like target practice.

The bible teaches that "the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked..." and I was taught to doubt my own heart / intuition leading to a shut down of the ability to trust myself and make a decision. For the past few years as I've read about unattachment and discovered that if you focus on growth it negates the fear of doing evil because it's counter productive. Part of the lesson in growing is that what you need should come from inside of you. Looking for fulfillment from others creates imbalance because it creates a giving / taking relationship that can flip flop back and forth instead of a giving / giving relationship where there is no neediness. My intention to have an experience even wanting to heal was a bit of a weak desire because I still wasn't willing to give to myself what I wanted from another. I don't get any easy road - that was the message. Instead of being annoyed, I'm grateful because I know that the harder the lesson, the more valuable the experience.

Fifth Ceremony - Facilitating

Having done a ceremony only a couple of days before, I was surprised by the opportunity coming available for me to participate in that evening's ceremony. I elected to maintain space and drink symbolically as an effort to facilitate the experience for others. The secondary intention was to send love and forgiveness to my mother. She had been on my mind a bit that day and it just felt like what I should do. Only drinking a tiny amount, I wasn't sure if there were going to be any effects so I just sat there meditating on my intention, attempting to visualize it. I saw my mother as a vehicle for my consciousness to have another go around at this life. She is another portion of consciousness who is just growing as best they know how. Suddenly I had compassion and felt like chains were melting off with the realization of the break in her power over me. It's like being an elephant restrained by a very small rope through programming but eventually realizing that rope is like wax.

Facilitating provided some unique opportunities to learn more about not taking things personally (getting shot as a messenger), but also how better to handle interpersonal conflicts. When you realize that life wants to build you up, it changes your perspective on conflicts or "difficult" experiences.

The Celestine Prophecy

You Are the Placebo finished, I had time left to read one more book before heading home. Two recommendations for The Celestine Prophecy from different people made me take notice. Being fiction it won out as something fun to read instead of lots of scientific or spiritual mumbo jumbo like what I had been reading. The trip was winding down and despite feeling like we had been there forever and longing for home, it also felt like it had somehow flown by. I wanted to maximize the last week and reading something light helped in many ways.

The book was apparently all the rage in the 90s but I'd never heard of it. You go on an adventure with the protagonist who is introduced "by chance" to the first part of a nine part Mayan prophecy, heads to Peru to try and find out more. Each section of the prophecy that is found and discussed throughout the book is summarized for the readers. The more I read, the more surprised I became at how amazingly well this whole trip and life, really, had gone - this book was putting lots of pieces together for me.

With each successive book, I was introduced to ideas in new ways, ways I was able to finally accept. They all laid a foundation for a framing crew to spring forward on. The Celestine Prophecy was speaking loudly and clearly to my process right up till the end of my time...as in forever. I'm not going to discuss what is in the book because if you are interested, you can read it for yourself. I've had books come my way at just the right moment so I trust that the universe can do the same for you.

Sixth Ceremony

During the staff meeting at the beginning of the last week, the opportunity for ceremony participation was discussed because space was somewhat limited. I had already decided that I was willing to do one more (preferably the last one before heading out) but was okay if there weren't any more opportunities - I had received a lot already. Without having to say anything it all fell together where I was assigned to the last ceremony of the season. Several books had impressed on me the importance of meditation and I felt like I needed to meditate on what I had learned for the week before my last ceremony. Each day felt special as I now watched for the reflections and lessons, seeing perfection in the natural unfolding.

The afternoon of that last day, we had a group acupuncture session with ear needles. If you think acupuncture is weird, you should check it out - super fascinating. Essentially the ear is viewed as an inverted fetus and there are points in your ear that correspond to what they are on the small scale version. The Holographic Universe talks about it some as part of the fractal nature of holographs. Once the needles were installed, we sat in silence meditating for about twenty-five minutes. I'll spare you the sequence of thoughts that led me to the realization, but as I sat there with needles in my ears, it dawned on me how much I have to accept myself. This might sound like a broken record but it's more like it's a message that keeps playing and is gradually becoming much more clear. Until I get it, I'm not moving on to the next thing. What I focus on and how I view myself is how my reality operates and I have the ability to change that by changing my mind and finding the energy and love I need inside of myself. Any time you start looking for it from outside of you, that's when "evil" starts happening. This message was being drilled into me.

In the very first ceremony I ever participated in I had a vision where all the evil that humanity does comes from not feeling whole as you are and that need for external filling creates a vacuum pulling in the knowledge of good and evil. If you believe in reincarnation, you know that the concept is that we experiences all positions on the wheel of life. But why do we do this to ourselves? Seems like torture. Christians talk about a "god shaped hole" in your heart which is why you "feel empty inside". The problem is that this god usually takes on someone else's voice and opinion through wholehearted assertion on what the proper interpretation of "the scripture" is. How would you know if you met the "one, true god"? Would you just accept the words of something, even if it "magically" appeared to you without any kind of proof? I mean I would sit up and take notice but just because something spectacular and "inexplicable" occurs, that doesn't mean it's correct. Many native people took whites for gods when they arrived on their shores only to find out that god was a lust filled, insecure man lacking in empathy. Gods rise and fall based on your knowledge and experience. Who is god in my life? I am but with the understanding that so are you, and so are we all. The only thing bigger than each of us is all of us.  Externalizing god makes it something distant and subjectively attainable. It's easy to tell someone god doesn't approve of them when god is a figment of their imagination. If we are part of the whole then anything we do has an effect on everything else and what we do to others we do to ourselves. That's why I keep mentioning reflections. You may choose to not believe it but the Universe serves up what your mind wholeheartedly believes. Eventually though I think everyone sees things differently and grows never leaving things without hope. It's not a one shot deal like Christianity would have you believe.

As I focused my intention on completely accepting myself in ceremony, I was once again confronted with segments of my past trying to sit there feeling sorry for themselves. A couple of times I started to get dragged into it but remembered the opportune words spoken to me just before ceremony - "don't dig in the past. That can be an addiction". I realized that the whining and poor me bullshit was actually just a control drama to avoid having to take responsibility. Battling these visions, I realized how much of a disservice it was to be stuck in the past and that there was no time to be sorry for myself any more. I have accepted that I may have chosen this life to learn something. It's like taking a really tough college class and then having your memory totally wiped. I don't think that everything is planned out but is based on what we believe moment to moment and no matter what the circumstances, there is always room to grow and evolve.

This last ceremony was like a perfecting garnish on the time in the jungle, tying up many questions and revealing new paths. It was bitter sweet to pack up and go hike that 5k to the river but to everything there is a season, and growth cannot happen being stuck in the same place forever so leaving to go home was also part of the journey.

What am I doing for three days???

For some reason when I booked my return tickets, I allowed a few days in Puerto Maldonado before heading to Lima. In the last week and a half, before returning to town I had been kicking myself for not "getting the heck out of there" ASAFP! Instead of getting in a rush I began putting to practice what I had been learning and focused on just being in the moment and seeing what happened. What happened were some wonderful experiences that I would have missed out on otherwise.


I got to hang out with folks I had made friends with while they were visiting the retreat. They own a piece of land for a conservation project on the Tambopata River and I was able to rent a scooter and ride out to see their place. Now before you start thinking "oh god, a scooter..." it had both a foot pedal for shifting and braking and went faster than was safe to go on any of the roads. Google maps fortuitously took me on the back way in (18km vs 4.5km). I got to see so much jungle that I would have never experienced going to "proper" way. When I pulled up to the land, they were rather surprised that I found the place lending a bit more credence to my semi-wild adventure ideas.

After spending more time in the Puerto Maldonado, I found or was introduced to some spots that helped keep me alive. Three that really deserve a shout out are Gustitos, Copasu and El Hornito.

Lomo Saltado: Gustitos

Copasu

Hamburgesa y Wasai milkshake! 

One of the other volunteers was in Lima getting a tattoo the same time that I was going to be there there so we agreed to meet up, grab dinner and I might possibly get a tattoo as well. After getting to the hostel around 7:30, we met up at the tattoo shop and then went and grabbed some of the most amazing sushi I've ever had. Next we hit up the cat park - a city park with lots of cats, and vendors. This one vendor had hand made clothing (I believe all from the Shipibo tribe). A pull over called to me, partially because I was shivering in my shorts and t-shirt but also because it was just fucking awesome. Reveling in the night, we stopped by La Lucha so I could get a sandwich for the flight the next day (super amazing choice), and then headed to the beach. Or more accurately, we went to the cliffs over looking the beach.


Some photos were snapped, a few comments exchanged, mostly human silence enjoying the crashing waves with the faint addition of light guitar and steel drum from some buskers across the park. We were about to go when I spotted something and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. "Did you see that?" I asked excitedly. "Look there" I pointed seeing it again. The waves were lighting up in some spots as plankton luminesced. It was quite spectacular and magical in it's own way. We stayed just looking for more to show up saying "just one more" and then staying for another one, two, four...

Sleeping in a shared dorm with four beds, I didn't want to be loud coming in at 12:30 am so I just took my shoes off and crashed out fully clothed on top of my bed waking up six hours later to get my tattoo. The art work wasn't complicated but I was a bit concerned about somehow missing my taxi or what have you. All unwarranted though as everything clicked perfectly and the next thing I knew I was in Fort Lauderdale with a five hour layover where interesting coincidences continued to abound.


Reintegrating

Sure was looking forward to getting home and seeing my partner and our puppy again. Due to her work schedule and the fact that I got in a 2:30 am on a Monday, it was no surprise that no one was super jazzed to see me. Part of me, an old part, was a little disappointed but then I remembered - don't take anything personally. In fact that has been ringing in my ears all week. Tuesday I hopped right back into work doing a job I've dreaded in the past. Part of the dread has been because I feel condescended to many times by the other people that job makes me work with. The new part of me looked forward to what I would learn from the day. There's no sense in worrying about life when you realize it's a perpetual growth plan and trust that as you work at it, you will improve. The only way to not improve is to not try. I had been learning to stand up for myself to my own self and others so maybe I would be tested on that again.

Day one back to work, it happened. This guy seems to be copping a bit of attitude about something his department did. I'm not sure specifically what he wants so I ask a question ready to help but in need of clarification. His response answered the question not directly but in what seemed like the form of a put down. I've never liked it when people ask a question when they have an answer in mind but it's almost like they want you to guess what they are thinking. It's always come across to me as passive aggressive and so I reacted slightly in my head. "Ok," I responded reaching to make the change "it's not like I put it there" I said in the next breath. As he put the camera down, he said "I wasn't trying to lay blame just making a statement about what we were doing. Catholic guilt huh?" My next thought was fuck this guy. Then he asked me "were you raised catholic?" I said no, because I was a little irritated and it wasn't a lie though what he had poked at was spot on.

Irritated because I don't want to be an asshole fighting everything but also don't want to be weak again and let people run over me. The doubt was assailing again. As the night progressed, I realized maybe he hadn't meant things the way I had interpreted them. The next morning I watched a video about quantum entanglement. In it I learned that when the particles are entangled and spinning, until measured they are theoretically spinning in not only in every possible axis direction simultaneously but also opposite from each other. As soon as you make a measurement of one particle, you automatically set it's spin  axis angle because it matches your angle of measurement. This also effect the axis angle for the other linked particle who also, though previously unobserved, maintains the measurement axis angle. I realized that this growing has many layers and you can't hold onto things too tightly. Lessons learned aren't necessarily meant to be taken out and used every day.

Standing up for myself is an important thing but shouldn't need to be in the daily repertoire unless I'm still taking things personally. When you stop thinking things are about you, you have way less to fight because you have way less to be upset about. With self acceptance, you find that it is proportional to how much you are tied to other people's opinions. What I've viewed as speaking up for myself made sense and was probably necessary in the reality I was living in then. Now I seek to remove the prejudices, axis of measurement if you will, and let things be more natural and authentic. I don't know where I will go from here but I have realized that it doesn't really matter. Success is a hard thing to define unless you turn it upside down and say that "failure is when you don't learn anything or give up". There is no perfection in a living piece of art save for the experience of the ongoing evolution.

The big question many people seem to have about the present and future is "will I be able to handle it?" As a species, we doubt ourselves immensely and then some people don't doubt themselves at all and run for president as illustrated by Donald Trump. People like him because Donald doesn't give a fuck and more people wish they could do that as well. Do they agree with much of what the man thinks? Who knows, does anyone really know what Trump thinks? We are so sick of doubting ourselves and being confined that we want to raise our middle finger to what we feel is holding us back. That's the first step of getting free is finding your power. The problem is that unless the personal judgements and filters don't get out of the way, your power doesn't come from within and things will only get worse. We all need a change of perspective to begin to heal ourselves and in turn, the world.

As I waited in the small Puerto Maldonado airport, I was fully present and aware standing in line trying to take in every moment. There was only one counter with a couple attendants. The line was barely moving and the temperature was rising. Very few places have AC in that region so ceiling fans were the best you could hope for to relieve the oppressive jungle heat. After 45 minutes, I had finally made it to the start of the squiggly section that subconsciously lies "your getting close". There I could feel the slight breeze from the ceiling fans and none too soon as a bead of sweat rolled suddenly down my back. Despite the horrific squeaking of the imbalanced fans, I was thankful for their service. My thoughts were interrupted by another thought - I wish I could hold onto this experience and revisit it. Maybe I'll take a video? I almost pulled out my phone but then realized that so much would have been left out unless I narrated everything. That's why writing is so powerful. You can capture and relay almost anything with the right words transporting your experience to someone else. That's exactly what life is, really, a way of having these experiences ourselves instead of just reading about them. We are the camera to our own life story experiencing this character as we actively select the plot choices.

Back to the question - "do I have what it takes?" Yeah, you do, it just matters how narrowly you want to define happiness, success, perfection etc. If you start walking in a direction, you're bound to get somewhere and if that direction is towards honesty and wholeness, you don't have to worry anymore because what is there to judge? I'm not what I was and I'm not what I will be - In this moment I simply am and will always be.

Conclusion

It's been really odd to have a set of keys again which made me think back to one of my first posts on this site when I moved into my car several years ago. Back then you probably will find posts from a different perspective because this site is a journal of my attempt to understand myself and life better. One of the things that was impressed upon me during the trip was that there is no one perfect way, there is only being and growing. Despite the "darkness" of the jungle, I found tremendous light and it was coming from inside of myself but also the jungle. Neither height, nor depth...can separate you from love - if you have it inside of you. I certainly don't claim to have my shit together but I also know that that concept is a bit over rated. There were glimpses of the me who I've felt was in there become manifested right in front of my eyes. It's not a race and there is nothing to fear so while I don't know where the future will lead, I'm finally excited to be living in the moment right before the future.