Soul Maps is not really any kind of adequate title for what I intend here, it’s a proxy, a tag that fitted in the Page Bar.
I’ve mentioned the structure of our inner being in many of the essays, and also gathered material in many of the comments. I’m not a very well organised or systematic individual. My intention is to attempt to gradually work back through the stuff that I have and present it here in one place where it can be assessed and considered more easily. This project may well never get completed, there’s just too much to re-read, when new stuff arrives every day, but I’ll make a start and we shall see how it turns out.
The fundamental idea is this, to compare my own personal understanding of what can be termed loosely as the spiritual and philosophical comprehension of being, with the notions that other individuals and cultures, past and present, have described.
How can you tell if you are enlightened or not ? It’s very simple, if you are properly incredibly enlightened, elephants come along and shower you with lovely scented water. You really cannot help but notice them doing it.
And you grow extra arms, and float above the ground. Or water, in this instance. Of course, these things are not to be taken literally, they are meant symbolically, to be taken metaphorically, suggesting powers and blessings that accrue to the adept.
So, working back through this blog from today, the most recent, Mr Vinay Gupta was interviewed at considerable length regarding his views on meditation and Enlightenment and related issues. I have just listened to Part 4, and you really need to listen to the earlier 3 to first, to grasp the context. Here’s the link
So this makes for a very good introduction to this subject for numerous reasons. Vinay is leading a busy secular worldly life, he’s living in the middle of London, he’s always travelling, giving talks, far from being any kind of reclusive monk or hermit, he’s half Indian, half Scots, he’s lived in USA, he’s very well educated, a sophisticated fellow, who is surviving in the mainstream culture.
I recommend his teachings in those podcasts, to any youngsters, or indeed older people, who want to get into any spiritual training, in this Western culture, where it is pretty hard to find any sensible guidance. He knows from firsthand experience. So, he lays out really good advice all the way through.
That said, I personally disagree, contest and dispute, almost every damn thing that he says 🙂
But that does not matter. For people who are beginning, it’s still a very good path. By the time you get through all that, then you can be like me, and begin to see all the stuff where he is mistaken. So please, follow his excellent advice ! It is not bad advice, it is good advice.
For a start though. This word Enlightenment. He has his definition. Well, a lot of people will not accept that definition. There are other definitions. So he is talking about his own personal definition of how he understands that term.
There is an interesting discussion wiki page on the many differing aspects of the word
You see, it is really quite complicated. Vinay calls himself, somewhat tentatively, post-Hindu. But there are very many schools of thought in the Hindu tradition, and they all have differing views on almost every point that Vinay mentioned.
The tradition, or one of them, that Vinay learned, is this stuff, which is not mainstream. As it says here, it has been ridiculed by some who believed they were more ‘sophisticated’, I suppose. The British call them Gurkhas.
Gorakshanath is considered a Maha-yogi (or great yogi) in the Hindu tradition. He did not emphasize a specific metaphysical theory or a particular Truth, but emphasized that the search for Truth and spiritual life is valuable and a normal goal of man. Gorakshanath championed Yoga, spiritual discipline and an ethical life of self determination as a means to reaching samadhi and one’s own spiritual truths. His followers are also famous for having been part of the warrior ascetic movement since the 14th-century,to militarily resist persecution against the Islamic and British colonial rule, developing martial arts and targeted response against high officials.
Of course, in a way, none of this matters. Just get into it, and get on with it. You’ll find that you learn, you hit problems, you find some way forward, later you discover some new insight… but on the other hand, millions of people in India, and other parts of Asia, have been doing this stuff for thousands of years, it’s a mistake to have the impression that Vinay’s interpretation is somehow going to rule out thousands of others…
Just look… you need several lifetimes to get familiar with all of this, it’s is VAST ! And I think that the Jains, by way of contrast to Vinay’s definition of Enlightenment, believe that only TWO people have achieved Enlightenment in the last 2,500 years…
Of course, Vinay means hatha yoga, which is ‘yoga’ as commonly understood when ‘yoga classes’ are offered in the local hall or wherever it is. But that sort of set of physical positions, what has that to do with the real, ancient yoga of India ? Scholars have investigated, and you might be surprised what they found…
Over the past hundred plus years, the concept of the chakras, or subtle energy centers within the body, has seized the Western imagination more than virtually any other teaching from the yoga tradition. Yet, as with most other concepts deriving from Sanskrit sources, the West (barring a handful of scholars) has almost totally failed to come to grips with what the chakras meant in their original context and how one is supposed to practice with them. This post seeks to rectify that situation to some extent. If you’re short on time, you can skip the contextual comments I’m about to make and go straight to the list of the six fundamental facts about the chakras that modern yogis don’t know. (See the postscript for a precise definition of ‘chakra’.)
First let me clarify that by ‘the West’ I mean not only Euro-American culture but also the aspects of modern Indian culture that are informed by the Euro-American culture matrix. Since at this point it is nearly impossible to find a form of yoga in India not influenced by Euro-American ideas about it, when I use the term ‘Western’ I include all the teachings on yoga in India today that exist in the English language.
Also, see here
WHY ARE THERE EIGHT ‘LIMBS’ OF YOGA? CAN’T THERE BE TEN? OR FIFTEEN? YES, THERE CAN, AND THERE ARE.
This week’s post parallels last week’s in that it alerts the reader to systems of yoga that constitute alternatives to the one that has gone global and exerts an unearned hegemony — that is, the eight-limbed yoga of Patañjali’s Yoga-sūtra. Yet all these different systems share some elements in common. Curious to find out what they are? Read on.
While no one can doubt the historical significance of Patañjali’s aṣhṭānga-yoga,before its 19th-century revival it was no more significant than the six-limbed (ṣhaḍanga) yoga that we find in the scriptures of all three branches of classical Tantra (Shaiva, Vaishvana and Buddhist).* The six ancillaries or ‘limbs’ of Tantrik Yoga are (not necessarily in this order):
- prāṇāyāma (lengthening and regulating the breath)
- pratyāhāra (withdrawing the senses from their habitual foci)
- dhāraṇā (meditative visualization of fundamental realities)
- tarka (discernment between what ought to be held close and what is best laid aside)
- dhyāna (attentive contemplation of one’s ultimate object, e.g. the Divine)
- samādhi (absorption arising spontaneously due to prolonged meditation)
So that’s the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which date from around approx. 1500 years ago, when Patanjali gathered and organised earlier material…
Some of that material is already in the Mahabharata, which is at least a thousand years earlier, and we have this, which might be much earlier, who knows, but is well worth checking out anyway…
Centreing, a transcription of ancient Sanskrit manuscripts, first appeared in the Spring 1955 issue of Gentry magazine, New York. It presents in ancient teaching, still alive in Kashmir and parts of India after more than four thousand years that may well be the roots of Zen.
You’ll have to scroll past all the other amazing stuff without getting distracted, to get to the Centreing part, near the end. A good test of your will power and self-awareness, we’ll get to the other material later ! maybe…. hahaha.
Nonetheless, I repeat, although I am attacking and criticising Vinay’s talk and his position (he’ll understand and forgive me, he knows, it’s my nature, I’m just a nasty bellicose man who likes kicking people, ahahaha, as psychotherapy… no, no, I do Eric Berne’s Empty Chair Dialogue therapy… trouble is, it turns into a psychodrama, Deleuze and Guatarri, The man who eats bicycles for a living, and when I’ve eaten all the chairs ? What then.. eh ? the table ? where does it end ? The Man Who Ate Himself… The Man Who Ate The Earth… The Man Who Ate The Universe… The Man Who Ate Everything… that was probably a woman… ahahaha.. no, no, I didn’t say that, I’m channelling Donald, it was a joke… help ! )
Everything Vinay says is still all good advice, do it, because if you are beginning, it’ll make sense, in this culture, and after six months or a year, then there’s a time to look back and consider…. if you are still alive, if the world has not ended, if…
My personal (zen) take on Enlightenment, is that it is ridiculous to say you are Enlightened or even to mention the matter, much. That’s because of the time factor. Zen is coming via Taoism and Martial Arts, where there is dynamic action, flow. Everything is always change, becoming. So, any idea of a ‘fixed’ Enlightened state, is already dead, static, gone, dead, left behind… too slow. It’s not on the leading edge of the cow catcher on the front of the engine pulling the train, in Robert Pirsig’s metaphor.
Zen is not looking forward, toward some future state that is to be attained, some Grail that is to be found. Zen is here, now, this, this IS the Grail. In the next moment you may be dead, and then it will be too late to have lived. So, now it must be. Everything, complete, in this moment. This is hard, of course. A difficult training.
You either are the entire Universe, or you are not. It does not matter which you are. Zen masters are entitled to sleep, to make mistakes, to be stupid, foolish, clumsy, just like everyone else. Just that, in my experience, what seems to happen, they are travelling so fast, so light, nobody notices or sees, it’s all been and gone and over and vanished before the ordinary folk have had time to blink.
This seems to happen with the soft martial arts, it is astonishing. You practice in slow motion, everything in slow motion, and gradually you can control the passing of time, of the events that occur around you, like having control of video speed playback. Like the monk doing kinhin here. Look at all the people in the background, living in their own busy preoccupations, dreaming in their bubbles.
When it comes time to fight, others are in slow motion, you have all the time in the world.
There is a lot more where I diverge from the Gupta Plan. I live in a world of spirits. I live in a world of Nature. I hate the city. I would die in a week, of heartache and woe, living as Vinay does, Enlightenment or no Enlightenment, I have to have hills. And ravens. Otherwise life is too sad to be worth living.
And the finalish conclusion ‘Marx was right, there is no God, therefore transhumanism is okay’, this just appals me.
I do not hold to the generally held ‘Christian, Islamic, Judaic’ deity, the Abrahamic God, that is rejected and denigrated by the atheists. But on the whole, my view is, that that ‘God’ is a straw man ‘God’ anyway, most of the ‘believers’ who have been ‘devoted’ to that deity over the last couple of thousand years, well, they have had no real idea what they were into, have they.
It’s just been what they were told to do. They followed their instructions, by the priests, the kings, the politicians, because they had no choice. How many serious thinkers and theologians, have there been, who were free to research their own experience and make it public ? Look what happened to the groups that tried to follow alternative interpretations.
I’m all in favour of cultivating a ‘divine presence’ type of God, which would be, or could be, the God of Jesus Christ, felt and known, in an intimate relationship. But I think what Vinay is doing is rejecting that entirely, and putting himself, and MAN, humans, in it’s place.
That’s what transhumanism, or posthumanism is, the idea that humans have the right, the entitlement, to make themselves into whatever they (or rather a certain rich powerful technocratic elite) fancy that they would like to be. And to engineer the Earth to suit.
It’s a sort of gross extension of the Biblical injunction that the Hebrew God gave the Jews the right to dominion over all the living things to do as they wished, as His Chosen Race. It’s unfortunate that by chance we got saddled with that one myth out of the thousands of others which were more benign toward the planet and our fellow creatures.
It is so shockingly disrespectful toward all other life, so full of contempt for Mother Earth that made us, so self-elevating, self-aggrandizing of human vanity and technical control.
And I think that lack of humility, that hubris, is grotesque and ugly, a disaster actually, and that’s what appals me.
I think, for many Hindus, not all, that intimate and close Christian God, ‘in all things’, would then be the same as, or very similar to, Brahman.
In Hinduism, Brahman (/ˈbrɑːmən/; ब्रह्मन) connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe.
Somewhat off topic, but much too interesting to let it slip past, somewhere in the conversation, (I really ought to listen again and find the precise time and wording, perhaps later) Vinay says that the way to get truth, or reality, is via science and repetition.
This is really a very profound and fascinating point. In the abstract symbolic world of mathematics where so many scientists live, then 1 + 1 = 2, and every time you repeat it, it’s always going to come out with the same result, which is reassuring.
Engineers apply this thinking to bridges and steam boilers and the like, so if the steel is always exactly of the correct specification, all the measurements following the blueprints, then Newtonian mechanics can predict that nothing will fail, because all the stresses and pressures are within what the materials can withstand and cope with.
And the chemists, they say that if you mix up compound x and compound y and they are both in an initial pure state, and put together in a particular ratio, then the result will always be, under the stated conditions of temperature, humidity, air pressure, that they will combine to form compound z which will have a greatly increased volume, and thus there will be an explosion.
All this is quite straightforward 18th and 19th C science of course. However, think about it.
Repetition never actually happens. The same event never occurs twice. You can set up similar conditions and circumstances, and then you observe a similar result. But none of this is the SAME as on the previous occasion. Each instance, is, in fact, unique. Albeit in some extremely small detail. But the time signature alone ensures it is unique.
And, although I am not going to get into it now, if you dig into the physics, it would appear from what some, the most advanced and clued up physicists I can find, nothing is deterministic, in the old fashioned sense.
Vinay gave a beautifully clear and succinct outline not long ago, of how the thinkers of Newton’s time were conceiving of the Universe as a clockwork machine. Clever craftsmen had built all kinds of mechanical animals and people which performed actions that astonished the onlookers who had no idea how the internal gears and pulleys worked. This was one reason why Descartes was convinced that animals must be machines without feelings or souls. By extension, the whole Universe was a clockwork machine, set in motion by God. So Newton figured, if he could work out, by inventing calculus, the starting points of the motions of the planets, then he could work out their ending points, and thus the date of the End of Days.
But since then, science moved on, God became unfashionable, the picture morphed, and the new atheistic physics begins with the One Free Miracle, of a Big Bang that comes from who-knows-where-or0-what-? and then there used to be this sort of deterministic chain of events, bringing us through the 13.5 billion years up to the present moment, through space-time, like a long chain of dominoes, if the first one got knocked down, then it was inevitable that they all fall until we reach this very moment…. that kind of cause and effect determinism.
But quantum physics is all weirdness. Entanglement. Non locality. Zeno’s effect. Etc.
Whatever it is – and nobody knows, there are numerous interpretations – it seems certain that the chain of dominoes is ‘not it’. There is a hazy area at the boundary between quantum physics and classical physics which is not understood. I like the way that Ruth Kastner explains this stuff, so if you want to go deeper try here, but I already digressed too far off topic.
At this point I am often seduced into a rant that I often repeat, that quantum physics has destroyed the philosophical foundations of science, as they were laid down, first by Thales, Plato, Aristotle, et al, and then by Bacon, Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, et al, and that nobody attends to this mess, they just muddle along, ignoring the problem, as if it didn’t exist, because it is embarrassing, it ruins the materialist rationalist narrative, and it is much to intellectually challenging for anyone to know how even to approach fixing it. So it makes them all feel inadequate and stupid. It gets brushed under the carpet, and we carry on with the junk science and junk philosophy, as if a century of quantum physics never happened….
But today, I am saved from going far into that digression, by my own karma… here is Deb on NBL…
For all: Having mentioned Jed McKenna, I feel compelled to re-post my favorite quote from him, since it’s been years since I first posted it and it generated some conversation at the time (thanks to ulvfugl!)
I’ve seen longer, more elaborate versions of this, but as I remember it from one of his books, it goes like this: ‘We’re all treading water in a shoreless sea, and we gather together in groups to try to convince ourselves otherwise.’
That was long ago, and inspired a blog post here. Jed, (no relation to Terence or his brother Dennis) is a bluntly spoken fellow, see this :
Your moments of blackest despair are really your most honest moments—your most lucid moments. That’s when you’re seeing without your protective lenses. That’s when you pull back the curtain and see things as they are.
Self-realization isn’t about more, it’s about less. The only construction required for awakening is that which facilitates demolition.
If I were to reduce this book and my teachings to their essence, I would say it all comes down to nothing more than this: Think for yourself and figure out what’s true. That’s it. Ask yourself what’s true until you know. Everything else in this book, everything else I have to say on the subject, turns on that center.
I never thought of waking up as a spiritual pursuit, I just wanted to get to the truth. Looking back, I can see where I might have used the word “infinity” in a koan-like manner; kind of a Western version of mu. Infinity is beautiful; it destroys everything it touches. It annihilates all concepts, all beliefs, all sense of self. No teacher, teaching, book or practice could ever be as effective as simply allowing the thought of infinity to slowly devour you.
So those ideas of infinity, and the shoreless sea, are both quite interesting, and can be hooked back to Ruth Kastner’s interpretation of quantum theory, if you like.
Because she portrays a sort of picture, where we are existing here, in space-time, but this is emergent, it emerges, from some sort of unknown, perhaps unknowable by us, pre-existent ‘something’, pre-space-time, a sort of quantum froth of possibilities.
Then we exist, here and now, on a sort of razor edge, The Eternal Now, as we, everything, emerges from the possibilities, and then, it vanishes into nothingness, the past, as new space-time constantly emerges, replacing the old, which disappears….
This sounds New Agey hippy dippy, but she is fairly hard headed and scientific about it all, she gets her stuff from Richard Feynman and that school of physicists.
In terms of Schrodinger’s Cat, the first problem is that we don’t have any way to identify an independently existing object like a cat. Even if we did, we would not have any reason to say that the two possible states of the cat are ‘alive’ and ‘dead,’ since another mathematically allowable situation is two possible states of the cat in which he is ‘alive + dead’ or ‘alive – dead.’
In any case, it is perfectly possible that spiritual experience–which is primarily subjective and inward in nature–is simply a different mode of knowledge and discovery complementary to the scientific mode, the latter being primarily intersubjective and based on outer sensory experience. Thus, spiritual experience might just be another way that many people ‘intuit’ the existence of sub-empirical aspects of the world. This is why it could make sense for the hermit in the cave to have an inner experience of an ‘unseen’ aspect to reality that could just possibly be the same reality described by quantum theory. Note that this suggestion is not dogma, just an offer of a possible connection between science and spirituality. In fact other researchers have suggested such a connection–e.g., Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics) and Gary Zukav (The Dancing Wu Li Masters). That is why I found it unfortunate to see such a schism between religion and science evidenced in the Caltech discussion, when in fact there may be some common ground between these different ways of knowing.
You and Dr. Shermer are right that organized religion has been a cause of much evil and suffering–and in fact that seemed to be your primary concern about religion in the debate. But all modes of knowledge can be abused for destructive purposes. Many wars are fought not over religion but to serve geopolitical and territorial goals, with religious or other lofty ideological principles often being used as a pretext for conquest and domination. Many scientific discoveries were ‘spinoffs’ of inquiries into how to be more effective in war (for example, the kinematics of projectile motion was a byproduct of efforts to improve cannonball aim).
Finally, to return to the concern that opened this letter: the temptation to overstate one’s case and be dogmatic is not confined to those professing claims about spiritual knowledge. It is an ever-present trap for all researchers to fall into, and those in the ‘rational’ knowledge traditions, including the sciences, are not immune.
P.S. Regarding free will, which you have apparently ruled out: it is certainly not a foregone conclusion that physical science disallows robust free will. That assertion, which is well on its way to becoming a dogma itself, is based either on not taking quantum theory into account or on a particular use of the quantum probability law that arguably is not justified. See, for example my earlier post:
Only now I notice that the site I linked for Jed McKenna is a sort of guru rating service, and although I’ve never heard of half those people, I certainly would never put U. G. Krishnamurti in the same rank as J. Krishnamurti (not related, afaik) that’s absurd. J. was one of the all time historical greats, a most extraordinary man. U. G. was hardly distinguished. Imvho.
Perhaps we need a rating service for the ratings services ? Here is a far more extensive and comprehensive one.
Their entry :
|Jed McKenna M b1975ish(?) American (IA), no personal info, only the books,(self-)publisher’s site, click for reviews. JM is rumoured to not exist, other (bogus) rumours have him as Richard Rose Spiritual Enlightenment — The Damnedest Thing, said to be fiction|
But there we are. These judgements must be, to some extent, subjective. What are you looking for ? Imo, most teachers, gurus, whatnots, are fakes, frauds, bullshitters, especially if they are charging money, selling stuff, doing it as a business. There are some exceptions.
But why do you need someone else ? I mean, it is ridiculous to be turning to some OTHER human being. You are the one living your life. You are the one who has to make the decisions and choices and solve the problems. Not some other person.
What they’ll all say to you, because they are smarter than you, is ‘Give me $25 and I’ll tell you the answer to your question’. But it will be no good, because it will be their answer, not your own answer. And you lost $25.
So keep the money. Think about it a bit longer. Most of the best old books are already free online somewhere. Find sites, people, names, you think you can trust, people saying stuff that you like, that helps you, that you find makes sense for you.
I have confidence in Bruce Frantzis. I know he’s authentic. He charges people money, because he has an organisation to run. But you can tell, or I can tell, just by looking at him, that he knows. And he’s totally dedicated, he’s been doing it all his life, now he is old, but there’s videos from his youth, he was very good. What he teaches is genuine.
I am not concerned here with the external, or with fighting, only with the internal, and with chi, ki, prana, and by extension, as it is understood/misunderstood in western cultures, the holy spirit, or holy ghost, or healing energy, or the same thing in various other connotations. But, psychologically, the martial arts have very good methods to teach about attitude, outlook, self-discipline, self-control, and much else.
Stupid people who are not trained get into fights. There’s nothing good about fights. People get permanently disfigured, badly injured, sometimes die, cause a lot of grief and trouble, maybe get time in prison, wreck their lives, nothing good.
Smart people who are very good at fighting, who are trained, know how to avoid having to fight. Almost always it is easy to avoid a fight if you are not afraid, because you know you can win, if you have to, you can afford to be friendly, generous, funny, let the insults pass.
If you are really forced to fight, then you disable opponents so fast, they never know what happened, and you leave. That sort of thing. You never get involved in foolish disputes and drunken hassles and all the stupid stuff that goes on everywhere. Unless you enjoy brutal trouble ? But then someone will shoot you. Martial arts are from the old days, before firearms. They are an anachronism, in these days of car bombs, grenades and automatic pistols.
This is another that I trust.
A Shaolin disciple, for example, is trained to be courteous and considerate, brave and righteous, assess problems and situations with calmness and clarity, and attend to duties with zest and loyalty. While the philosophy of many martial arts mainly focuses on how to be stoic and hurt the opponent, Shaolin philosophy teaches gentleness and a love for life. The twin pillars of Shaolin philosophy are compassion and wisdom.
An autobiographical intermission.
I have mentioned from time to time that I suffer from a debility, a disability, that I have had since childhood. Well, if you are going to be afflicted with a serious illness, better it be an interesting one than a boring one, I suppose, and mine is a particularly cruel and weird brain disorder, which I do not understand, even though I have paid it close attention all my life and read as much as I could find that relates to this disease.
The last official diagnosis came from a National Health Service consultant neurologist. He assessed me, and I assessed him. My guess was that he had wealthy parents from some Middle Eastern country, possibly they bought British citizenship, and they paid for him to have the upper class British education at a ‘public’ (which means ‘private’ in British double-speak) school, that cost a lot, where this fellow, who was not exceptionally bright, worked hard, passed his exams, so he could proceed to the next step, of securing the most desirable asset, the trophy, a career in law, finance, medicine, which as things have been, guaranteed a safe and comfortable future. It used to be that the Church and the military were equally secure and enviable, but, as with administering the colonies, they’ve lost their allure.
So, this young fellow, seems like a schoolboy to me, with a very posh upper class accent, the fat side of chubby, a face that has never met any hardship or suffering, a physique that has never encountered manual work, begins to tell me all about the details of Cluster Headache. The trouble is, I can see he is reading google pages printouts, and I have already read all that stuff long before, and much else beside, so this is somewhat tedious. He is supposed to be an expert on the human nervous system, not a fucking wiki page.
Anyway, I have an attack while we are talking and discussing, and it’s good, because he has power and authority, and instantly a sychophantic nurse appears to do his bidding, and fetches a syringe of lidocaine, which gets painlessly injected into the trigeminal nerve at the back of my head, and stops the pain. See, he is good at that, he learned the anatomy stuff.
But, unfortunately, the ordinary local doctors cannot or will not, they do not have that magisterial power, and anyway, now the lidocaine has been de-listed and is not available.
Ah, I realise, I forgot to say what the nature, the name, of this disease is. Well, see, according to this expert, it is chronic Cluster Headache combined with chronic Migraine.
And he should know. Shouldn’t he ? That’s why he gets paid £90,000 per annum, or whatever it is. Trouble is, he has to decide in the short time of twenty minutes, and he’s a Cartesian materialist, whose indoctrinated in the English class system that has told him he’s had the goodies, the superior education, the ‘truth’…
He was the powerful educated one, and waiting their turns were the long queue of the unfortunate poorly educated suffering ones, who were mostly fairly shabby, the working class, and me, scruffier than most, I simply don’t care about the ranking system. And I asked him a few questions, I can’t help myself, I am a sort of taoist master, I destroy opponents with the touch of one finger, it comes from nowhere, intuitively..
He said it was not really understood blah blah… and I said ‘ Yeah, how chemistry becomes consciousness…’
For a moment, there was a flash of terror, of fear, in his eyes. His social status was destroyed, the peasants are not supposed to say things like that, questions which are far above even his elevated pay grade, answers that cannot be bought with money, his brain was whirring through the text books trying to think which section of the manual applied, and when he could not find the answer his professional poise evaporated, changed to panic of a child who cannot answer the exam question… poor fellow, I didn’t intend it, it just happened out of nowhere 🙂
I mention all of this, because it all ties together. There are philosophical, social, ideological, political, scientific, anthropological, spiritual questions and ramifications to all of this.
The notion of disability. What do you do with people – or animals, birds – that are no use, that are unable to look after themselves ? They require the assistance of someone else, who is then, in turn not able to look after themselves, they are burdened by caring for another.
Shoot all the stragglers and weaklings ? Or be kind and generous, and extend compassion to all. We had the eugenics movement in the beginning of the last century. It became pretty gruesome. Why anyone let Steve Hawking survive I’ll never know, I have to keep seeing his face on adverts, and hearing about Black Holes, all because of him… and Darwin, he was sick every afternoon….
Disability is radically political, there are the loathsome Super Crips, who get made into celebrities by their corporate sponsors, in vulgar awful showbiz TV extravaganza media events, whilst zillions of people with real disabilities, who are not glamorous, who cannot be exploited for cash, suffer in obscure squalor and dire poverty.
You know, is there any reason to care about what happens to anyone else ? You have to start from profound questions, like what is the meaning, if any, of life, of existing ?
Over recent decades, the last half century at least, in mainstream dominant Western culture, we’ve been taught, persuaded, indoctrinated, that the point, the purpose, of life is to make money. To convert your time, energy, thoughts, ideas, natural resources, whatever parts of the natural material world you can access, into money.
You are to try and hold onto that money, if you can, put it where it will make more money for you, but you need to display your wealth, otherwise, what’s the point ? So, spend it on stuff that shows others that you are ‘living well’, making lots of money, have a yacht, go for skiing holidays.
But the real reason why this attitude, outlook, reason for existing, has been promoted, is because you are meant to pass the money on, upward, so that the avaricious ones who control the machinery from the top receive a greater flow of revenue. Because they always want more. They can never have enough. That’s because they are in competition, for power and wealth, with others. And there is never any end to that race. If one has x thousand billion, then the other has to top that number, or else feel inferior, seconded.
Of course, it is not only the abstract numbers. They will meet at the casino in Monte Carlo, and have to be willing and able to lose a sum so staggering, that all the wealthy clients will blanche, and then do it again, the next evening, just to show that, for them, money means nothing, because they are so fabulously wealthy, the numbers are astronomical. There are people like that.
So this is an illness, a disease, a mental disorder, that overtakes the incredibly rich. They lose all connection to any real values or ethics. Like the mad Ottoman Sultan who had hundreds of his concubines sewn into sacks with rocks and thrown into to Bosphorus to drown, over a trivial incident. Because he could do that. If he willed it so.
Our entire world culture has been distorted by such maniacs. Because greed, ruthlessness, and luck have given them tremendous amounts of money, they assume they must also have great wisdom and be entitled to decide what’s in the best interest of their fellow men. So we have had American oligarchs who have forced political and cultural choices and values upon the world which we are all having to endure.
In particular, pertinent to the topic, the materialist paradigm of reality, and the mechanistic medical model, which was foisted onto the USA, by the Rockefellers, early last century, because they got a monopoly on all of the sixteen drug manufacturing corporations, so they wanted all the doctors and hospitals using their products.
So, other, alternative, medical paradigms were suppressed and this remains the case up to the present. This is not only the case in medicine, it applies everywhere, everything is political. Not in the narrow party political sense, but it the broader sense, the discourse of the polis, the daily conversation of Athens, whether to put Socrates on trial or not, the issues that concern the popular masses as they conduct their affairs.
To try and steer this back on topic. My illness, disability, resembles Migraine in some respects, resembles Cluster Headache, in some respects, resembles Trigeminal Neuralgia in some respects, however, it does not fit any of the descriptions perfectly, or respond to any of the treatments very well, so regardless of the labels, it’s not easy to get a clear understanding of it. I do not have a clear understanding. If you read the pages, not much is well understood. If you read the research studies the biochemistry is unbelievably complicated. Some claims to having found causal factors are ruled out by other studies.
So, maybe I suffer from all three, or maybe there is confusion as to how they are understood by the specialists. Whatever. Sometimes the attacks are more like one, or more like another, it can change how it presents itself. And for most of my life, despite probably hundreds of visits to doctors, I never found any correct diagnosis or effective remedy or relief, which was incredibly depressing, disheartening and confusing. Because, over and over, you read the advice ‘See your health care advisor, visit your GP, etc’
And so I would have to endure 24, or 36, or 72 hours, curled up in a dark corner, trying to leave my body, because the pain and horrible feeling was utterly intolerable. And I had to find or invent excuses or reasons for this somewhat strange behaviour to the people in my life, and that cause me all kinds of bad problems.
What was interesting about it, sometime, probably around age 20, I read about shamanism, and that was when I realised that what happened when I left my body, was what the shamans described. So that has been a positive aspect. Because I became expert at the OoBee thing. The Otherworld. Or Astral Travel. There are scores of terms. Which is fascinating. I have had many decades of these experiences. I defy anyone who negates my own direct personal subjective experience.
I read all kinds of stupid rationalisations by the materialists who attempt to ‘explain away’ these kinds of experiences of the non-physical realities, in typically trivialising and derogatory terms, the usual crap about ‘hallucinations’ blahblah, but as I mentioned above, this is a political and ideological issue, over which a war is being fought. The materialists are determined to win, because if they lose, it will cost them money. They need the reductionist mechanistic paradigm where ‘the world’ is made of inert meaningless ‘stuff’, so that they can convert everything – live, dead, whatever, makes no difference to them – into money, as fast as possible.
Any form of invisible spirituality threatens their dominance, the hegemony of capitalism. It is of course, slightly more complicated, because those people, the Neoconservatives, the Neoliberals, the bankers, cooperate happily with many groups which appear superficially to be spiritual. Many forms of ritualised nominal spirituality exist which are either totally hypocritical, or they have concepts of divinity which permit their followers to treat the Earth with contempt, because in some belief systems, the material is disconnected and inferior and only the divine is important, and that ‘divine realm’ is so remote and far removed from mundane affairs as to have no relevance.
People can be coerced, bamboozled, bought, into believing almost anything, can’t they ? The most effective way to gain global control is to offer pecuniary incentives at all levels. Those who print and distribute the money have the power to do that. Once that power in in the hands of people who have no ethical concerns at all, then a totally depraved and dissolute outcome is assured, because only the lowest common denominator will be the end. Isn’t this what we see ?
Of the 7.5 billion humans, about forty individuals have managed to grab as much money as half of all of the rest. It’s not as if they need that money. It’s just the way that the system is designed, it’s inevitable that it takes from the poorest and gives to the richest, whilst destroying the fabric of the living planet upon which we all depend. But the people with the power are mafia bosses, they are not amenable to sentiment or reason, they have no choice but to vie for power with their peers, and I think it is impossible to change this. Anyone who threatens their interests gets eliminated. We are locked into this mess.
Since sometime before 2000, when I finally got a correct diagnosis, and the triptans were invented, zolmitriptan has been an effective remedy for this illness, most of the time. But, sometimes, for unknown reasons, it stops working. Worse, instead of the friend stopping being a friend, it becomes a diabolical treacherous enemy. It starts by needing higher and higher doses to stop the pain, and then it no longer stops the pain, it actually has what they call a ‘rebound effect’ when it produces more frequent and more severe attacks.
So this put me in a difficult position, because the only thing to do is to stop taking it for a few days, as long as possible, until it becomes effective again. And during that period I have nothing to take to deal with the attacks, so I am back to the old days.
And that’s what’s been happening recently. I stop taking the zolmitriptan for as long as I can bear, maybe four days, which means I suffer greatly. Then I can use it again, so I can function, more or less normally. But it quickly begins to lose effectiveness, requiring higher doses, because I get attacks every few hours. And so then I am back to square one.
The pain of course, well, that’s very hard to describe, it’s beyond what anyone can cope with. Fortunately it’s usually only ten, twenty, thirty minutes, of peak intensity. I’m very experienced at dealing with this. But it will break anyone. It’s not like you can be macho and tough about it. It’s so bad it’ll just wipe you right away, so there’s nobody left to be macho and tough, there’s nobody left to cry and whimper. There’s hardly any consciousness left at all.
I’ve learned the practices the buddhist monks do when they immolate themselves. I can do that sometimes. But you see, they only have to do it the one time. I takes a lot of concentration. What’s hard is having to do it again in an hour or two, and then again and again, it’s very draining, I just run out of will and energy to keep up that level of intense struggle.
I’ve tried many, many different drugs of all kinds and nothing else seems to be much use. But then it morphs into the migraine form, more like a dull ache in other places and feeling bad, so I do the long sleep and leave my body, like I used to do a lot, years ago. And it is quite nice to get familiar with all those old techniques. I meet people and we go on strange adventures. There’s usually, or often, four of us, two males, two females, I am one of the males, the females are sometimes women I have known. Long complicated journeys.
When I return to my body, here it is, in this reality, which is no more real than where I have been, which seems like a very long time, even months, and this body is like a corpse I climb back into. And then I notice the pain has ended. I gradually wake up, and am then incredibly sensitive, hypersensitive, in this world. Seems to me, everyone is so callous, so crass, they make so much noise, they are so brutal, brutalised, their coarse stupid pursuits, the things that they want and desire… it’s a bit like being born anew. Then I gradually harden up, get used to adjusting back to being what ‘the world’ calls ‘normal’.
I keep hoping this latest relapse will come to an end, and will settle again. It seems to be okay for a couple of days, but then it comes back, worse than ever. But I am ulvfugl.
This is why I am ulvfugl. Because I actually relish this magnificent ordeal. It has taught me so much, I’ve gained so many deep insights that I could never have attained by any other means. It is very cruel, vicious, I can either give in, and end my life, because I cannot tolerate it. Which I used to do, regularly, years ago. Or I can adopt a different stratagem, and rise above it. Which is what I have chosen, because I have free will, as a man, to do. I say that a man can do whatever a man chooses to do, and can be whatever a man chooses to be. In a very humble and modest fashion, within the limits that are imposed. At some point, I will die, and this peculiar set of circumstances will come to an end.
It is not that I enjoy this, but I have no choice. I’m not a masochist, I don’t desire to be hurt, I like to feel well and good. But this happens to me, so, this happens to me, and I have to deal with it. Others need help !
The trick is, not to think. Thought creates an ego, a self, a me, a mentally constructed being, who suffers, who is suffering, and feels self-pity, seeks explanations, the whole business extends and has no ending, you can go on forever, the entire history and theory of medicine, all the arguments and counter-arguments over all kinds of issues. So don’t go there, stop it before it starts, end it before the first thought begins.
Because it gets in the way, even one small thought sets this off. Using the right thumb to find the severe pain that is coming from the cranial nerves behind the ear, into the nerves around the eye and cheek, sometimes pressing on the nerve behind the ear, where it is tender finds the place, and then pushing the pain downward, with strong pressure, rolling it back toward its source will quickly end the attack.
You can think of it as some bad acidic poison that is leaking out from a point at the base of the skull, close to where it joins the spine, so you use right thumb to squeeze it all back to that source and keep it there and prevent it leaking out.
I can do this internally, using mental visualisation of chi energy, moving the point of attention, pushing the pain back to its source, sometimes it works very well, sometimes it doesn’t. Depends perhaps on how bad it has got. It requires intense concentration, which is work, if I feel drained and beaten after the last session, that’s hard to muster.
This is entirely non-scientific, phenomenological, descriptive, subjective.