One of the greatest turning points in my life occured when I stopped philosophising or trying to achieve any kind of intellectual certainty and started to learn and apply skills that could help people resolve conflicts, create ceremony, find their mythic vision, find the powers and medicine behind their problems and connect with the sentient intelligence of nature on an experiential and somatic level
‘Follow your heart’ many people say. But what does this mean? In the heart one might find a vast stillness, a luminous fire, a ferocity, an immense tenderness, a spaciousness, a deep feeling of relationship or intraconnection, a deep knowing. You may find intuition, clarity or luminous awareness, grief or surrender. You may find many wild animals, numinous landscapes and an inner temple.
Sometimes people assume ‘follow your heart’ means follow your feelings, but sometimes our feelings can lead us astray, when they are just feelings from the past circling round without being fully touched or acknowleged by tenderness and consciousness. So you might need to discern which are the feelings from the past which need to be touched with tenderness, and which are the grief and joy that goes down into the ember fires at the core of your being. What’s the feeling behind the feeling, and what are the embodied states and myth being that accompany them?
Its not always helpful to be lead by the first emotions that you experience and its rarely helpful to repress them either, (although we may have good reasons for doing so) Its not always enough to just be aware of your emotions; sometimes its helpful to go deeper into them, to discover the emotions behind the emotions, all the body sensations, body postures, sound, relationship patterns and myth beings that live around and within them.
To be lead only by our emotions is to live in a hall of mirrors in which the whole of outside reality just becomes part of our unacknowledged projections, rather than a world that is experienced as something we are mutually co-creating and co-dreaming with a million other life forms.
What is to be found deeper within our emotions? Behind fear there may be a cautiousness, an alert aliveness, a ferocious intent or a vast power. Behind sadness there may be a feeling of a being able to stand up against a oppressor OR a great grief which cuts down to the core of our being like music and is in some way inseparable from our joy. Behind desire there may stoicism or rapture, innocent gratitude, fierce aggression or the orgasmic body. Behind anger there may a vast drive to penetrate everything, a gentle stength and protectiveness, a powerful intent, a force for justice or an aikido like power to guide an opponent where they wish to go or to communicate with them more deeply.
We need the heart, and we need the throat and the head too…not just the thinking mind but the connected heartmind, the eagle vision mind. We needn’t be caught in emotions from the past, we can live and dream from a place of embodied co-creation, where our deepest feelings can be tenderly held, processed and allowed to flow through. Rationality and clear thinking are important too, but we needn’t be caught in the purely rational mind either; we can trust the aliveness and knowing of of the soma, the heart and the embodied superconscious.
We need the heart, and we may need its connection to the solar plexus too, our connection to our deeper power and deep instinct, to know what to do. And we may need the spiral fire that rises from the sacrum, from the belly, the testicles or the womb to rise into the heart and suffuse it with something like liquid light and an embodied sacral knowing.
The heart is deeply intuitive and knows and is connected with the solar plexus’s instinct and the belly’s orgasmic being. It is connected with the mind’s vision and the throat’s expression. It is connected with the ‘void’ of not knowing, the unknowing of love between the heart and throat. We can sense, feel, see, hear, smell and taste through our heart; all these senses are intimately neurologically connected with the heart. The heart is the enlaced radial hub of a tens of thousands of neurons and inner energy channels and center of our embodiment, senses and connected ‘Self’
If you journey deeply enough inside your heart you might find the temple of the heart which contains the stories and dreaming your ancestors and your non-human spirit ancestors. In this place, there is no doubt about who you, what you feel, or what you came here for. In this place you know who you are.
In the temple of the heart you are blessed by your ancient ancestors from the time before the period of disconnection from nature. They have lit a fire for you, to guide you through the dark of the current age. Their light shines through your later, possibly more wounded, ancestors and heals them. You are blessed by the Goddesses, Gods, heroes, kings, queens, tribal elders and ancestors of your spirit lineage
If we want to be be released from suffering we may need to recognize how we are trapped in an ‘old story’ of living up to someone else’s expectations that we have internalized. On a psychological level many of us have internalized the expectations of our parents or primary caregivers, for example to conform, to look or act a certain way, to keep our heads down and not speak out or to invest in a particular narrow definition of success at all costs. We accept ourselves if we live up to these internalized expectations and feel shame, fear or existential doubt if we don’t. We may have internalized someone else’s conditional expectations of us and as a result we only accept and love ourselves only on a conditional basis. In a sense is as if our primary caregivers have inadvertently placed a kind of ‘curse’ on our life.
Every human being needs to experience connection, but due to their own inherited trauma and dysfunction, parents and caregivers are sometimes only able to give love and connection on a conditional basis. As a child, in order to get love and connection from our parents or primary caregivers we may have been compelled to behave in accordance with our parent’s or our caregiver’s expectation. In doing so we may have suppressed our own needs. This is why so many of us don’t know our own needs. As an adult when we are unaware of our own needs we will always feel slightly off center and experience life as elsewhere, not quite here. We may be easily be taken in by disconnected spiritual, religious or secular political ideologies. We may be able to relate to the young poet Rimbaud’s words ‘I is another.’ When we are unaware of our own needs and longings we will never fully walk the path of our own destiny.
As an adult may need to reverse this process of self alienation by bringing consciousness to our own needs, by reconnecting with our body feelings and by learning to follow our own instinct towards joy and abundance. We may need to learn to listen to our ‘gut feeling.’ We may need to descend into the body and bring the full light of consciousness to the body feelings, sensations, emotions, body postures, inner images and intentions that are associated with the expectations that we have internalized. Suppression of our own needs and attempts to get love or connection from living up to an extrinsic internalized expectation unbalance the parasympathetic nervous system and cause stress.
The body’s stress apparatus and particularly its production of the key stress hormone cortisol, become unbalanced through chronic overstimulation when we habitually go along with the other’s internalized expectation rather than our own needs. This causes fear, tension and sometimes illness in the body and reinforces our belief in the need to follow the ‘false self’ or the small self; the expectations of the other that we have internalized. We may need to take time to reverse this process by re-connecting ourselves with our own body, by coming to know our own body and emotions from inside, by learning to regulate our own parasympathetic nervous system, by processing any tension and trauma that may be present, by slowly learning to following our own needs and ultimately by becoming powerful
When we become aware of our ‘old story’ and the expectations we have internalized and when we fully feel, complete and bring consciousness and tender care to all the emotions, inner sensations, inner images, intentions and body movements connected with this old story then these feelings, intentions, body movements and inner images may begin to spontaneously transform. They may begin to transform into dreamfigures and mythic stories. They may lead us to inner mythic figures and mythic ways of being in the body which hold the key to shifting into our big Self; to fulfilling our needs and leading us to power. We may begin to realize which life choices are heartful and lead to sovereignty. We may begin to discern which people make up our true soul community; the ones who need our gifts and who will in turn help us fulfill our dreams. Instead of feeling we are ‘not good enough’, we may need to learn to give ourselves approval and blessing. We may begin to trust ourselves enough to move into the unknown and to do things which we thought we couldn’t do, which we feared to do or which had previously seemed impossible.
By following and bringing the full light of consciousness to the very symptoms produced by the orginal ‘curse’ we may eventually begin to perceive the true magnificent ‘gifts’ that we have to bring to the world. At this point we may begin to long for, and perhaps to begin to allow something greater than healing to emerge. We may realize that healing is helpful but we also long to be free, to experience triumph, to become an elder, to serve our community, to help others to be free and to live our life as a playful, honourable, wild adventure. It may seem that a benevolent force of nature is beginning to move through us and is shaping and guiding our life. Eventually the ‘curse’, the old story, will give way and will reveal the seed of the new story, of the ‘gift’ which is its opposite or exact reverse mirror image. A ‘new story’ of worthiness, freedom, imagination, co-creation and sovereignty will replace the old story of unworthiness and shame.This is the mythic level or the sentient level of our being which leads to triumph, eldership, joy, freedom, honour, responsibility and power
What is an effective way to reduce poverty? Get involved in ‘international development’ projects which destroy a country’s bioregional culture and expose it to predatory neoliberalism? Create a punitive benefits system which forces people into useless jobs which have no function except to create more economic growth and hence more environmental and social destruction? Perhaps the best way is in fact the most obvious, which everyone seems to overlook as it doesn’t fit into their ideological viewpoint on reality: simply to give people money. We have been conditioned by neo-liberalism to believe that human beings are essentially ‘bad’ and if given money they will somehow waste it. In fact the opposite is the case. When in an experiment in 2008 every person in the village of Otjivero-Omitara In Namibia was given a basic income of $100 Namibian dollars ($13US), after one year child malnutrition declined from 42% to 10%, school dropout rates declined from 40% to 0%, crime went down by 42%, household poverty dropped from 76% to 37%.and entrepreneurial activity and self employment went up by 300%. We need to start perceiving an unconditional basic income as a fundamental human right.
Why do some people fear abundance, power and influence? Maybe its because they fear will become a superficial marketer, a disconnected salesperson. Its quite likely you don’t want to become a slick unethical salesperson. But could there be some hidden medicine power behind this fear? Perhaps behind the shadow-like figure of the salesperson there may be another power, a power that helps people become incredibly attracted to their deepest, most expansive, sovereign, connected and most honourable version of themselves. A power that supports people to be in love with the earth and the people around them, that helps people to become incredibly attracted to the ecstasy in their being
One of the greatest, sometimes difficult and rewarding things to do in life is to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; if you do so huge rewards, gifts and unexpected magic may come. Listen to your instinct and intuition to find the people to ask. You are not some isolated island, even if it may seem like it. Sometimes its the right thing to be courageous enough, human enough to ask for help. Sometimes you may need to evoke all of your wisdom, love, tenderness, wildness and grief before you can ask for help. Just reach out a hand through the storm and ask.
Let the asking come through you as if a larger force of life is asking through you. You are not alone. Self sovereignty and personal power are good, but they are meaningless unless we are able to ask for help and mutual support too. Asking for help is sacred. It is a blessed thing. And fuck the violent machine that says it isn’t. When you reach out and ask for help you build up a kind of debt to other people. Its completely different from a monetary debt involving interest and all that nonsense.
In fact this debt is mysteriously also a surplus; it become an empty fullness of love through which others gifts and generosity can pour into you. Become completely indebted to others and you create a community, you embody our mutual interconnection. Ask for help and support from your community, fill yourself completely with their beauty, support and gifts and then you can pour your own gifts and generosity back out into the world like a river of love flowing through your body and heart into the life.
At the very start, at the beginning people might try to become mindful or aware or feelings, to be present all the time. To do this requires actually going into and sensing feelings to start with. Once this has happened a person might be able to get a wider view, a larger view of their feelings, sometimes described as ‘detachment’ or spaciousness. The self is loosened a bit and seems to be a little more process-like. This might be the beginning of a continual dual process of both going deeper into experiences and simultaneously gaining a larger wider more fluid perspective
There might be a tendency to leave it there, and to walk around being very careful and mindful all the time, with one part of the self constantly ‘looking at’ another part, avoiding any loud disruptions and probably lacking a sense of humour about the whole thing. Or you can go further and get even more detachment, even more spaciousness and live in a detached, rarified but perhaps dehumanized, luminous, trance world.
But there is another probably more fruitful, more human, grief filled and joy-filled path to take at this stage: to descend deeper into your experience, to process and bring tenderness and awareness to inner sense feelings, emotions, movements, interception, even looking at stretching and unstretching of muscles, eye movements, song, stories, dreams, synchronicities, relationship patterns, belief patterns and myth beings. To walk the dragon path deeper into the mythworld and find the myth beings and sentient powers behind all problems and troubles.
This path might involve connecting with the sentient earth based powers in the larger body of the land itself. To find the beauty, songs, creations and magic and medicine powers behind problems in community; even to grow together with the damaged and blessed enemies in the exhilarating and terrifying experiences of our living histories on the lands and on the streets. To walk a path where the self is annihilated not once or two times, but again and again and again.
Then one of the things that might happens is that by ‘going in’ even deeper a person gains an even wider perspective, where everything and its opposite seem to converge. In this larger view, the self becomes fluid and river-like and feelings, sensations and even myth beings and non-human becomings pass through you, as if they are organisms moving through a living ecosystem. The self becomes a process, it becomes loosened and becomes a kind of fluid, dynamic, flowing ecological self; the great Self, which is really a kind of ecological process, emerges as a result of allowing larger forces of nature to move through you.
If you want to learn how to give, it can be helpful to first learn how to receive. In receiving deeply other’s gifts, we open ourselves to life and its joyful sense field. In receiving with all senses, a sensation, a feeling, the abundance of a tree or another person in their fullness, we open to life’s unlimited earth based dreaming, its orgasmic potency. In receiving another’s support and help we open to community. The dance of receiving can be distinguished from taking by the openness, untensing and receptivity that accompanies it. In a sense receiving is already giving, by opening and receiving fully and completely, we are in away already giving back. Equally when we are giving, its likely we are also at the same time, always already deeply receiving from those we give to.
People sometimes feel some kind of shame about their incapacity, imperfection, weakness or limitation but really there is no need for this. This shame may be something that as a culture we need to leave behind. Its because of our incapacity, our weakness, our limitation that community is possible. Community is possible because we can’t do it all by ourselves, exist by ourselves; we can’t exist as only separate atomized individuals, we evolved to be community orientated beings mutually supporting each other. We may need to be vulnerable enough to reach out and ask to be supported by others, or to reach out and support others.
The ‘gap’ of our grief, our limitation or incapacity or weakness is the also the space which opens us up to mutual aid and community and also to love and compassion. You can’t ever get rid of this gap of vulnerability. Following in the wake of an attempt to get rid of this gap of vulnerability are all the horrors of history: wars, ecocide and empire. All of these horrors and dysfunctions are a ultimately futile attempt to cover up our incapacity, grief and weakness and the ecological connection field of love that it creates.
Cultures which measure of worth by our perfection, capacity and effectiveness alone are those which are determined to wall themselves off from nature, from decay and from life. These are also cultures, or parts of cultures, which are doomed to decay and fail, as the horror of separation and atomisation they engender drives them to self destruction. Cultures, or parts of cultures which embrace incapacity, imperfection, ineffectiveness, inefficiency, decay, death, wyrdness, strangeness and otherness are those that will flourish into a density of connection, abundance and beauty.
A perfectly invulnerable person would be incapable of creating community and incapable of love. Our love comes when we see someone else’s weakness and grief and we reach out to help them. Community appears when we are compelled to reach out in need by our own incapacity, ineffectiveness or weakness. Reaching out in need and in brokenness is not something to be ashamed of or to cast aside. Reaching out to support others in their vulnerability is what creates community. It may restore our whole culture and our whole ecological being if we practice it. It may carry us across the abyss and bring about the forest garden abundant ecovillage networks of the ancient future
The ‘big Self’ arises not by adding something onto our being but by subtracting something, by subtracting the fixed solidity of our being. The more expanded ecological self appears when we become fluid and process-like and allow feelings, sensations, movements, mythbeings and the voice of the earth to move through us, as if they are life forms within an ecosystem. The big Self arrives as an emergent result when we allow a larger force of nature move, act and speak through us