Monday, May 25, 2015

Myth Happens

Golden Sun / Helper Beings / Many Hands (View from above)

I listened to a TED Talk this evening by Jeff Kripal, a professor of comparative religion at Rice University. There were many points he made that hit an instant chord of recognition. Mostly having to do with how what we refer to as the "paranormal" is an experience that collapses the boundaries between mind / matter, subject / object, the either-or logic or dualistic view that we live with in our day-to-day lives.

Kripal: "[We are] 'Subject': a mental entity, looking out into the objective world. This is essentially 2 dimensions, a mental dimension and a material dimension, and we imagine that those are mediated by the senses, which we shut down at the number 5. This is the basis of modern reason, modern science, and it works extremely well, but not always. There are moments in individual's lives, where this binary, this dualism between the mind and the material world, collapse, or break down."

I had a kind of epiphany listening to his thoughts. Coincidentally (or not), I had just been interviewed by Jeremy Vaeni for his podcast show "The Experience". Many of the points presented by Dr. Kripal resonated with some of our discussion on the podcast, and for me personally, with the nature of many of my experiences.

For example: one recurring experience I have are the presence of "helper beings" who aid me in my ability to "collapse" the boundary between the this-and-that worlds, to remove the "and". I usually see them as little golden beings who swarm around me like moths around a flame, using their hands to modulate the energy field around me, helping to keep it from overwhelming me as occurred in a kundalini episode many years ago. They also assist in my connection with what I call the "sky rope" or "snake rope" that allows me  to ascend upward into the center of what I can only describe as infinite sun-like golden light. Are the beings "real"? It depends on what we mean by "real". For me they are. They are manifestations of my mythos: the non-dualistic "all" that is the "real" nature of consciousness / universe (call it what you want), clothed in a guise that makes sense to my material brain.  Hey, whatever works. ;)

The Helpers: the little golden beings who help me to get out of my dualistic skin.

I also realized that I sometimes accidentally recreate some of these experiences in various themes throughout my work. It hit me last night, that the "Golden Sun" porcelain piece at the top of this post was an image of my helpers and their ever-present "Many Hands" depicted in a sketch below) working to help my passage from bifurcated (split) world to the world in which there is no separation between observer and observed.

Many Hands: another view of the "Helpers".

Sky Ropes: my conduit to the Infinite / Oneness.

Dr. Kripal went on to talk about how our "paranormal" experiences play out as a story that we ourselves manifest. This makes a lot of sense to me. Jeremy and I touched on essentially the same point in our discussion: about how the framework of our culture and our day-to-day "real" (material, physical) life may have a good deal to do with how our paranormal experiences unfold. I think this may happen on several levels: global / cultural, where commonly shared motifs and archetypes of our larger culture are played out, and at the individual / personal level, where our own interior mythos is added to the "brew". This complex filtering may explain both the similarities on one level, and on another level, the individual idiosyncrasies and variability of high strangeness details.

Kripal: "The paranormal is a story waking up to its author; i.e., ‘us’.... We are all caught in a story. We are all caught in a novel we may not even like. We are all born into cultures and languages and belief systems, that may or may not serve us, and yet they define what we can think, what we can imagine, who we can become. We are in fact, all ‘written’; we are all ‘being played’ in some way."

Perhaps one thing to take away from the above is that we cannot control or shoe-horn our experiences into consensus-based frameworks (e.g., religions, new age, ufo or other groups). These ultimately fail. The simplest and clearest approach is solitary exploration. There are no easy answers, fast tracks, or pre-packaged "truths". We have to kill our ego and exit the temple of shared beliefs in order to reveal the very personal mythos - the story - of our experiences that, as Dr. Kripal put it, collapse the dualism between the mind and the material world

Experiences I shared with Jeremy during our podcast discussion:

Red Painted Man and Nuclear War
About the Cigarette Lady
Opening (Kundalini)
Serpent Mound Revisited
Little Wild Man

In case you might like the watch the full talk with Dr. Kripal...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


In our rush to embrace, progress, technology and the conveniences of a modern civilization, we have sanitized away our connections with ritual and shamanic practice. We have forgotten how to make these critical connections not only with our own personal spiritual self, but with a larger cultural context that embraces, reflects and supports the symbiosis of spirit-self-culture. It is a kind of loss of a larger identity that we suffer from. We really don't know who or what we are, or how we "work".

"We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave."   
~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.
The audio of the above story is here.
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