Monday, August 31, 2009

Meanings, Maps and Territories Part Two

With today's article I would like to post some information from Daniel Pinchbeck's Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism. Orignally I was going to mix 'n match information from my favorite investigators into the Otherworld who have authored beautiful, exquisite, profound and paradigm changing books-for me anyway. However, I got to thinking that it would be best to keep the post to one author and subject at a time. The subjects and ideas these people present can be quite fluid-and I think this is necessary to talk about events, beings and places that are not rooted in what we think of as "normal" 3-D reality. This is also interesting to me because I think these denizens of the Otherworld and their workings impinge upon our world quite often-and also that our world isn't near as solid and law-abiding as it seems.

Sometimes I look at it this way: Say I were a fairy (maybe for me gnome would be better:)-or perhaps the ghost or spirit of someone killed in the War of the Roses. If I were either of these beings mightn't I look at this world-granted with as much of the horror that comes with it, from man's inhumanity to man. But I wonder if our world might seem endlessly fascinating if I were on the outside looking in so to speak. At the best of times I can look past so much that goes on and see a world of stupendous beauty, love, imagination and brave people who try to fight the forces of darkness against very long odds. I wonder if 99 percent of all sentient creatures in the multiverse suffer from the habit of the eyes and the hearts going blind because by habit and manipulation we are usually in the "same shit, different day" mode. Oh-and believe me I am no Pollyanna. I have suffered from depression (like many people do these days) a great deal of my life but am thankful that I don't normally get depressed to the levels that many do. I have also struggled with issues of addiction since I was 15 years old (when I had my first taste of booze) and again feel incredibly hopeful and lucky that this hasn't (and won't) defeat me (O yeah honey-I will survive! thanks Gloria;) and I say a prayer of gratitude for this everyday. Addiction issues, unfortunately, have killed people who are better in every way in their proverbial little finger than I am in my whole body.

Well this has been more than enough of my musings and theorizing -except for one last thought I would appreciate any feedback on. If my thoughts on the 99 percent "our world is blah" and one percent "wow our world is beautiful and amazing!" creatures has any validity at all-this is just a wild thought-maybe the trick to the human races survival is to learn how to be a one percent being?

Here is the information from Pinchbeck's Breaking Open the Head from pages 97 to 101. I will quote some passages where Daniel Pinchbeck talks about two deaths. The deaths of his father and a close friend and last of all some thoughts on the modern soul and capitalism that Pinchbeck has where he also uses information from another person to make his point. Talking about the death of his father Pinchbeck writes: "In his last years he excercised the freedom of someone who had dropped of the map. Escaping all fashions and trends, he gave up following anything except his own solitary path. In the paintings, he was whispering over and over the invisible secret he had carried with him all his life-from his early childhood in Brighton to the money-mad Manhattan where he had become an anachronism-that phantom of meaning and form that had haunted him. Working in solitude, he proved the theorm to himself alone...His art was his spiritual path. On his desk I found a scrawled note that said simply: "The need to believe." A bit later Pinchbeck writes of his father: "Reading his notebooks, I realized he was ambivalent about living into the new century; he wrote about feeling the society was increasingly depersonalized, inhuman. He never owned a computer, never received an email. He dreaded what he called "the great Robot Empires of the twenty-first century."

"He suspected that his belief system, the existential and handmade aura of his life and work, were not going to translate into this new era." After this Pinchbeck talks a bit about how his psychedelic explorations had helped him to rediscover his dream life after years and years of having bland dreams. Then he goes on to write: "In January, a few weeks after I learned that my girlfriend was pregnant, I had this dream: My father and I were sitting by a lake and he said, "Look at the light." Out on the water, light was rippling, a green light breaking into halos around the rocks. It looked like an effect from one of his paintings. I realized I was being allowed to have a last visit with him."

Nine months before Pinchbeck's father died, one of his closest friends overdosed on heroin at the age of 33. He has this to say about his friend and his death: "...R was a brilliant writer, a magnetic madman, good looking, strong and strong-willed, heir to a vast family fortune...But R had an unhealthy fascination with alcohol and drugs; he was fixated on self-destruction. The galleys of his first novel were on his desk when he died." A bit later Pinchbeck also talks about having dreams of his friend: "In the months after R's death, I had a series of dreams about him that were similar to the dreams I had about my father months later. At first there was a lot of confusion over whether or not R was really dead. I had several dreams where he overdosed but survived. Once, we spoke about this confusion at a party. Another time I visited him in the hospital. A few times I cried to him in my dreams, sorry I hadn't done anything to help him. I told him I hadn't known how. While he was alive, I had even fantasized about taking him to Gabon for iboga, but I knew he wouldn't be open to it." My note: Iboga is a plant-actually a psychedelic rootbark that has extremely powerful anti-addiction properties. I do not think you will see iboga treatments in the USA very soon as some very evil and entrenched interests make too much money off of the drug trade here.

Pinchbeck continues: "Almost exactly a year after R's death, I had a dream where I went into the "spirit world," a kind of limbo accessible by rope ladder to visit him. He seemed much calmer than in our earlier encounters. He was sitting in front of an old typewriter. I asked him what he was doing with himself now that he was dead. "I'm writing," he said. "I'm writing about my life. I'm trying to understand what happened." "That's really good. I'm happy to hear that," I told him before I left. Most people assume that such dreams are manifestations of the personal unconscious. Before my ibogaine trip, I would have thought that as well. After Gabon, I was willing to consider other possibilities. As time went on and I examined my dreams, I began to suspect that the spirits of my father and my friend were not just phantoms that my mind created. They were visitors from the after-death realm, still confused, sometimes resentful about their loss of human status...My unconscious psyche (what some traditions call the "astral body"), still attached to the world of the living, could help them understand what was going on."

A short while after this Pinchbeck relates some problems in the modern world to our being cut-off from the invisible realms, or what Patrick Harpur refers to as the Otherworld: "...We drown ourselves in alcohol and medicate ourselves into rigidly artificial states with antidepressants. Then we take pride in our cynicism and detachment...What is the truth of the era in which we live? "Walter Benjamin called capitalism "a religion of destruction." It is a religion because it is based on faith-untested and unproven by the individual acolyte-in materialism and rationalism. It is a passive worldview, a negative theology. Even in the 1920s, Benjamin recognized "the destruction of the world as the real goal of world capitalism-its systemic hope and transcendent ideal." Disbelief in any spirituality is also a belief system. The capitalist mind perceives the world purely in terms of material resources to be used for its benefit...If there is still a vague and oppressive sense of guilt, of wrongness and imbalance, this gnawing guilt spurs capitalism on to greater acts of consumption, more violent attempts to subjugate nature, more totalizing efforts to create distractions...The destruction of the world is revenge against a vanished God, and a drastic attempt to invoke the spiritual powers."

Benjamin writes: Capitalism is probably the first instance of a cult that creates guilt, not atonement...The nature of the religious movement which is capitalism entails the endurance right to the end, to the point where God, too, finally takes on the entire burden of guilt, to the point where the universe has been taken over by that despair which is actually its secret hope. Capitalism is entirely without precedent, in that it is a religion which offers not the reform of existence but its complete destruction. It is the expansion of despair, until despair becomes a religious state of the world in the hope that this will lead to salvation.

The image is of a nine- dimensional hypercube. It didn't necessarily have anything to do with the article-I just thought it was cool! I have forgotten at least one link (as usual) for this article-and if I can't find it by today I hope to have it here by tomorrow. I hope there was a little something in this for everybody-if not I will try harder:) I am working on information from several different authors and hope to have some posts about their work here soon. I may even do more from Breaking Open the Head. I think the order of authors next are Jeff Wells, Michael Talbot and finally Patrick Harpur. Wonderful people whichever order they show up in! Peace and be well to anyone passing through or stopping by!


Justin Russell said...

Another author I'll have to get onto someday Dev. Nice article, thanks.

Devin said...

Justin thanks so much for stopping by!! To my knowledge Pinchbeck has authored two books -I would definitely recommend Breaking Open the Head over 2012 The Return of Quetzocoatl -even tho i have both haha- best to you as always!!

Alex Robinson said...

Marvellous thanks Devin, just the kind of thoughts I need to contemplate at the moment.
Pinchbeck's father's following of 'his own path' is exactly the sort of thing that this world pulls out all the stops to prevent.

I loved Benjamin's views on Capitalism too - brilliant!!

Very interesting theme, many thanks.
Hugs to you & Clemmie

Devin said...

You know Alex-I have had that Breaking Open the Head book a very long time -the year it was published I think-and I was shocked until I did this post that I never put more thought into the Benjamin quote-not that its an old book-pub 2002 i think -but I think he hit the nail on the head with the final "endgame" of capitalism-what is going to happen when there is nothing left to commodify? best to you as always Alex and I am very happy you enjoyed this post!!

Nina said...

wow. what fascinating reading. i resonate of course so deeply with his thoughts on capitalism and its (controlled and planned) destructive nature. and how we have become desensitized to so much, causing us to detach from one another, distrust one another which leads to us making all sorts of excuses about why we can't connect with HIM or associate with HER. his thoughts on addiction are spot on as well. well, imho that is. :) and i totally believe the son's mind was not all that was involved w/those dream spirit visits with his friend and father. what a gift--to see that our awareness/consciousness simply goes on--still trying to understand previous experiences that "brought us" to where we are today. very interesting herb as well for dealing with addiction. and you're so right--the PTB certainly would keep something like that hidden (just like they've kept SO many natural cures hidden).

and what you said: If my thoughts on the 99 percent "our world is blah" and one percent "wow our world is beautiful and amazing!" creatures has any validity at all-this is just a wild thought-maybe the trick to the human races survival is to learn how to be a one percent being?

i think that's a very powerful statement, devin. being that 1% is a challenge given the structures of living (from birth to death), which is what makes such beings/people so rare. but it is our potential--something we must aspire to if we are to reach our highest selves and highest potential. i do believe most aspire to be that 1%--especially in those quiet moments of solitude.

this is reading material i am writing down to check out myself. thank you for posting it! : ) i hope you are doing well and feeling well.

Devin said...

Nina-I certainly think as you do regarding this whole post -I am very happy with the comments I have received for it -I knew people who read my blog would "get it" and I totally agree about the spiritual part also!! we are densensitized to so much and our minds are becoming clogged with useless and trashy information whether we want it to or not it seems like!! i am no celebrity worshiper -especially film -but damn if i here the slightes thing about one of those putzes (albeit very wealthy putzes:) it will stick in my mind for some reason-and stuff like a beautiful poem or passage out of a book will fly right out the window of my mind -I almost have to memorize like i did in school!!
I am very happy u enjoyed this post Nina-and my very small contribution to it about the one percent beings!! The book is very powerful -on many levels-and what kills me is that we will never see ibogaine treatment for addiction here because of the money the dark forces make off of the drug trade!!best to you as always!!