Communication is key to everything in life, I would say. Especially the communications we have with ourselves. It does one no good to lie to themselves about anything for any reason. Unless or course your intent is to live in delusion, in which case, by all means, you should continue to exist in a fug of lies. Going within, though, to discover what Freedom means for you would be essential to finding your ‘Life’s Lost Purpose’. – Lorenzo Malowane
“I don’t write articles, they write me.”
All the Words Combine
I have been publishing articles on this and other websites for over ten years. It was brought to my attention years ago many of the articles I post are translated into different languages. This is the greatest compliment. I have even had opportunities to be interviewed by akin-spirited people intending to make a difference. I am empowered by the expanding community I discover and encounter with every article I write. Yet, there is something missing in my experience, and perhaps those of others. A transcendent relativity to equal the articles’ purpose.
Truth into Illusion
One observation I have made is the limited understanding, dialogue and application of the social awareness and listening into which I write. I will be the first to acknowledge the complexities and intricacies of the subject matter and vernacular I often choose, and the arrogance and pretentious tones my expression may convey. Perhaps I have lost the attention and interest of readers in the process. It is what it is, in a social reality rife with predominately negative images and information broadcast like advertisements for oblivious consumption. Perhaps what I write about may occur as offensive to many, as much as the mainstream media is to me.
Against the Grain
All who intend to express the truth they resonate with, into an artificial, callous and immoral society always face the greatest adversity, criticism, judgement and ridicule. Humanity is and perhaps has always been inverted and regressive in nature. The masses tend to lash out at those who stand for the truth and praise those who manipulate perception. At no time in my fifty years of life have I felt this to the gravest degree than over the last few years. When I offered an alternative or diverse perspective on what has been happening in contemporary society, I encountered social anger, blame, condemnation, shame and vitriol, losing acquaintances and friends along the way.
I am grateful to be a part of communities who accept and understand me for who I am and who I am not. When the gravity of society imposes its weight upon us, we usually dance and laugh our way through with conscious abandon. This is essential in a chaotic and challenging age. The window to awareness seems to be narrowing for many. Being an expression of the universe in an artificial world is a daunting endeavor. When the tides of humanity are ebbing toward madness and mayhem, our purpose is to flow with acceptance, balance, compassion, consciousness, equality, love and transformation.
“For the energy of the universe.”
Over the last decade, I have observed the declining state of journalism spiral into dis-, mis- and no information, social exploitation and partisan opinion. Authors, bloggers and columnists spar for expanded readership at the cost of their personal and professional authenticity, integrity and veracity. Even to the extent of arguing over nuance in a blind quest to be first, renown and right. The impacts to their audiences have been devastating. It is one thing to bend reality to benefit one’s career or company. Something entirely different to abuse the attention, reliance and trust readers have in an author or publication for the purposes of prestige and profit.
I understand and accept the design of social reality, even when it has no acknowledgement or regard for the truth. I do not need to accredit, compel or solidify what I experience for it to exist for others. That is up to them to choose to discover for themselves, or not. I understand humanity is primarily conditioned and programmed into authoritarian-driven narratives, engineered to provide a social environment of artificial belonging. In which people have the platform to defend their insecurities behind the institutions of education, lifestyle, politics and religion. To the majority, it often seems easier to abide in fear than embrace love.
Ceiling of Consciousness
When I wrote on topics like consciousness, creativity, imagination, multidimensionality, transformation and universality, I used to wonder why there was a lack of response from the world wide web. Why proactive and positive expressions were excluded into non-existence in a society addicted to vicious cycles of negative and regressive repetition. Even why there was a social dependence on toxicity. Then it occurred to me, emulation has highjacked our opportunity for creation. We are artificial beings enslaved in a digital simulation, reacting to social stimuli projected into our existence.
All in Resonance
Every article I compose is inspired by what resonates with me in the moment. The writing process is intuitively guided. Even the editing and revision methods are empowered by insight. When they are published, they are as universally expressed as humanly possible. One of the only unfortunate elements in the progression of an article is attempting to convey in words all that is beyond instinctual and intellectual understanding. Yet, the opportunity to hone my ability for universal expression supersedes the inevitability that most of the universality is lost once they are completed. The energy between the lines is essential.
What I choose to write about may not mean much to most if anything at all. If it did, there would be more of a watermark in the world when the tides of the articles recede. I have never had an intention for profit or recognition from what I publish. The website is free to all who choose to visit. I do not benefit, except for exposure from my articles being published on other websites or for interviews in which I participate. This is my commitment to the universe for sharing its creativity, empowerment, energy, insight and understanding with me. I am only an expression of its presence through my experience.
“Empowering and inspiring community through creativity.”
“Many may know, few will understand.”
For over 20 years, I have participated in ceremonial community. When I reflect on my experiences, one of the greatest insights I have had is that they are not “mine.” My interpretation of them is irrelevant. Even their benefit and the roles that have come to me from my commitments are insignificant. Another epiphany I had and continue to express to the best of my ability, is being of service to community. I simply hold a space for others to have their experience, however it may manifest, without attachment, control, expectation and influence. It takes everything from me to be true to the tradition and express who I am called to be. When one gives all and becomes nothing, it creates opportunity for everything.
The Human Gene
One of the most heartbreaking experiences I have witnessed on this path is observing when participants fall victim to their ego. It is a delicate and intricate balance to maintain an equilibrium between the prayer we make, and the society in which we live. Many falter in their pursuits to gain personal advancement, power, recognition and status at the cost of their experience and those of the people whom they desire to lead. It is more about manipulation and less about tradition. Many interpret leadership as the quantity of their followers and the control they impose, rather than their service to community. It becomes dangerous when they are insensitive or oblivious to the impacts their personal agendas and strategies cause.
Whenever a tradition becomes congregational or institutionalized, it is only a matter of time before it manifests as social dysfunction, harm, oppression and destruction. Last year, I published “Spiritualized: The Ego of Spirituality.” It expresses clarity into the influence and impact our egos have on our experience and those of others. Many forms of religion have established, enacted and profited by controlling and manipulating parishioners into fear, guilt, obligation and uncertainty to uphold their authority over the many. The propaganda they proselytize is a scheme to prohibit the individual soul-intimation experience. Personal discernment and distinction are vital in creating and preserving our alignment with the universe.
Invention of Programming
All of us are indoctrinated into institutional structures of selective reality. Long before we learn to express consciousness and conscience, we are programmed to emulate a common, condensed interpretation of all with which we identify and relate. This is a social control technique to maintain our enslavement. Most “intelligent” people are cast into a vicious cycle of existence. They choose not to acknowledge the truth that they are imprisoned by their ego with their own denial, doubt, fear and self-righteousness. We have been conditioned by education, mainstream media, religion and society to be right instead of true to our experience. This is what motivates people who believe themselves to be leaders to control others.
“Knowing is an invention of the mind. Understanding is an expression of the soul.”
Knowing and Understanding
Knowing tethers us to thought. Understanding inspires us to be. I would not choose to “know” anything. In my opinion, knowing is too intellectual. Just facts and figures ricocheting in my mind. Knowing is a diversion from observing, understanding and applying what I experience into who I am. Social reality imposes the duality of thought and action into our lifestyles. We are energetic beings with multidimensional potentialities. Our heart and intuition relate us with our soul and the universe. Knowing is merely a fraction of our experience in the universality of our existence. Understanding empowers us to align our body and mind with our heart, intuition, soul and the universe.
Focus of Vision
Epiphanies and insights are occurring in every moment of our present. When we happen upon them, they occur to us as fleeting glimpses, existing beyond our purview. We simply do not dedicate the necessary focus to cultivate our experience. We must express a purpose of awareness and observation to create a sustainable environment in which our consciousness resonates with the frequency of our vision. My initiation into this experience was terrifying, as it was so diverse from the reality in which I had been indoctrinated. It annihilated my adolescent belief, perception, thought and understanding. After I found my balance amidst the fluctuating currents of my experiences, I grew accustomed to the shifts and eventually chose to flow with them.
Observation of Experience
Our experiences are only as conscious as we live them. We exist in a social reality that imposes oblivion as a control mechanism. Our focus of vision kindles our observation to hone our awareness and its expression. Though we are programmed to exercise acuity through a filter of a selfishness, being present to the circumstances and events transpiring around us empowers us to establish how they exist within. Eventually, we create the opportunity to transform ourselves, our existence and our perception of reality. Our observation is the expression of our relativity with the present. The current challenges of the new era are an ideal opportunity to shift and align with the universe and our soul, guided by our intuition, while being conscious of our heart, mind and body.
Expression of Being
In no other tradition have I experienced such an extraordinary symmetry between the personal and community experience. When balance is established, one can have their individual discoveries within the circle. Whether or not this happens is empowered by our unique expression of being. When the shared focus is for the benefit of the people, personal transformation is possible. It simply requires us to shift our focus from our self alone to the needs of all. Being willing to release the social conditioning of our selfishness empowers us to be proactively empowered by community consciousness. When we choose to embody this way of being, our personal and collective visions manifest.
“One insight I would share with those at the crossroads of their soul; be present to your ego and its influence, or you will never have a spiritual experience.” (“Spiritualized: The Ego of Spirituality.”) The primary element to our social programming is believing and engaging in linear reality. Personal transformation is a multidimensional encounter with infinite facets of vision, observation, experience, expression and being. The optimal way to discover who, how and why we are is our relativity within community. We sacrifice our greatest potential with our social obsessions for selfish inclinations. Community offers us the opportunity to create ourselves with our commitment to all our relations.
“Unity is the soul of community” – (“Spiritualized: The Ego of Spirituality.”)
“Community is our commitment to unity.”
“We are present only when we are grounded.”
We are not taught how to have the greatest experience of life, or even how to optimally live. We are conditioned through the institutions of education, entertainment, genetics, politics, religion and society. Engagement in social reality overshadows the empowerment of the universe. Spirituality, intuition and enlightened emotion and intelligence are all extracurricular activities, chosen by the few yet abandoned by the many.
Within the egocentric, social parameters of accumulation, achievement, advancement, security and status, all things universal are forsaken, even our very souls. All of us have infinite opportunities throughout the course of our lives to create our unique path. When the direction of our course in life drifts one degree from its center, we eventually find ourselves arriving many miles removed from our intended destination. This is when social reality hacks our experience.
The Bane of Banality
For those who have read the articles I post, it is evident I am not a fan of social reality. I am mainly inspired by creativity, community, consciousness, empowerment, evolution, imagination, multidimensionality and transformation. In my observation, these are the foundations of universal experience. I choose my words wisely when representing the universality I aspire to embody. However, they pale in comparison to the essence I attempt to articulate.
It is not just the phrases and terms assembled to express what it is I experience. It is the energy between the lines that encourage diverse levels of understanding. One that has taken me decades of personal evolution, observation and transformation. I do not perceive myself as “enlightened.” When we interpret ourselves in this light, we often wager our vision, intention, purpose and destiny for artificial power, recognition, self-righteousness, significance and vanity.
Transposing the universal into the terrestrial for the sake of application, manifestation and transformation is my intention in translating the omnidimensional into the literal. This is my purpose. It is evident we live in a three-dimensional construct, existing as two-dimensional beings. What does this mean? Our reality is a domain with three dimensions, length, width and depth. This is how animate and inanimate objects appear to us as “real.”
As human beings we experience our lives through two dimensions of interpretation, our instincts and intellect. Yes, we all have emotions, and occasionally we have intuitive epiphanies and insights. However, our mind and body hold the reigns of our being. As we experience our lives through these filters, we are enslaved into duality. Therefore, conflict and division rages between us. Yet, the battle and distance within us is far more hostile and vast.
Eye of the Beholder
Our experiences are defined by our perception. However simplistic this may seem; we make it more complex. Our perspective often lacks three essentials: discernment, evolution and observation. When we observe our experience, it is an expression of consciousness. When we practice distinction, we create a transcendent vision, progression and understanding. This elevates our perception and empowers the evolution of our being.
These practices cultivate our transformation. However, experience is greater than perception. Our perspective is simply a filter. Our senses have been socially distorted, highjacked and manipulated for the purpose of diversion, preoccupation and oppression. The triviality of society is in stark contrast to the embodiment of our soul. It is the social beast we feed with our fear and engagement. If this is not evident in current events, then we are in conflict, denial or oblivion.
“Evading our soul is a crime against humanity.”
We exist in the vacuum of a virtual reality transpiring as a tragic fantasy. We are more engaged in interacting superficially in our relations with others, we have neglected our relativity with ourselves. Most of us don’t even know ourselves. Who we believe ourselves to be is almost entirely dependent on how we are perceived by others. Our inner criticism, judgement and reticence traumatizes us to the point of non-existence.
We are shadows of who we are destined to be. The truth is, we are the cause of our unfulfilled experiences. Our obsession with amusement, distraction and information is our avoidance of being present to our personal dilemmas and social crises. Whether it is our career, family, politics, religion or social life, we often evade authentic belonging to sustain artificial, conditional relations. This is most evident in how we conceal and defend our personal deficiencies.
Up on the Downstroke
We are all now challenged in ways we have never experienced. We have been driven well beyond the boundaries of our conditioned tolerance. Most of us are overwhelmed with despair, depression, isolation and sadness. It is one thing to be aware of the impacts these social elements impose. It is another matter entirely to observe their effects, focus our attention, shift our intention and expression and transform our experience.
We must transition from programmed causality to create something new amidst the antiquated patterns of our personal captivity. The common design of reality is one of enslavement, no matter what the nature of our engagement. In essence, we are anesthetized, desensitized and traumatized into the quandary of human existence, it is as water to the fish. In essence, we are unable to see the personal prison to which we sentence ourselves. Our social conditioning has condemned us to a life of death.
Circle of Life
We tend to believe the burden of personal and social transformation is solely on our shoulders. Yet, the more we stand to hold a space for others to evolve and transcend, the greater energy we generate to empower the circle of life. Breaking the chains of our conditions, entitlement, expectations, judgement, insecurities and self-righteousness inspires the awareness and freedom necessary to manifest our personal and mutual destiny.
We are all related. What happens to one of us impacts all. Not being our true self inhibits our unique expression. Our greatest opportunity is to create, empower and transform how experience exists for all. This shifts our social inclination from personal greed to community need. Understanding and practicing acceptance, empathy, encouragement, listening and sponsorship is our collective rite of passage. It is a declaration of our commitment to make a difference.
However spiritual we perceive ourselves to be, it is futile unless we apply, express, intend and manifest it into our experience. As impossible as it may seem to transform reality with our chosen practice, the fullest expression of its empowerment is best established collectively. Personally, I challenge the objectives of all who proclaim, wield and weaponize their spirituality in the wake of our present global circumstances.
As difficult as it may seem to intimate with our personal and social encounters, grounding ourselves into our experience is the only way we will transform. Beyond the fantasies we invent to escape the harsh reality in which we exist is our opportunity to inspire universality for all. Our observation, focus, balance and intention empower our potential to relate with others and ourselves. Experience becomes wisdom when we bring the universe down to earth.
“Experience is the gravity of grounded existence.”
“Energy flows where attention goes.”
Self as Center:
We cannot blame ourselves. It happens to us before we even understand what awareness is, let alone how it is best practiced. As children, we are programmed by our parents, family, teachers, ministers and society before we can draw distinctions of what is and is not social conditioning. We are told it is for our own good, so we learn to cling to it as a lifeline. Our individual reality is our center of importance. Selfishness becomes our way of life. It cuts us off from society, nature, experience, relativity, each other and ourselves. Yet the perceptual filter of egoism never provides a healthy vision of who we are beyond who we see in the mirror. We are merely a phantom of ourselves.
Our focus is our power. The measure of its existence is defined by how it is expressed. No matter how much attention we may intend, it exists within the vacuum of social reality. The intricate design of human experience is riddled with amusements and mirages to constantly seize whatever focus we may muster in any given moment. Our engagement is what sustains the delusion. Therefore, the war on perception for our interest wages forward, intensifying with every view. Consciousness is sacrificed upon the altar of social media for a superficial sense of belonging, purpose and worth. The image becomes more present and powerful than its source. We inevitably become an illusion of ourselves.
Recent events with the virus have not only crippled and compromised the confidence, immunity, tolerance and understanding of the world. It has also isolated, separated and terrified humanity en masse, breaking the foundations of community, compassion and good will. Given time, most things of this nature will ultimately pit us against each other in a race for entitled, self-righteous supremacy over our fellow human beings to defend and protect our anxiety and fear with our own egotistical projections of animosity, contempt and envy. We are clever like that. Able to exploit and strategize with the best of them to uphold our social standing in a decaying society hellbent on measuring success with money and power instead of belonging and love.
Democracy Trumps Narcissism:
Survival of the fittest, such as it is in the US, especially now, is why sociopathic egomaniacs have highjacked and manipulated what we experience and perceive as democracy. Its very nature does not sustain the intricate systems of control, power and profit established and maintained in the business, educational, political and religious arenas. Yet, for the first time in 12 years, we saw democracy in the US come alive, gain momentum, express its power and thrive in the midst of a global pandemic. As remarkable as the last few weeks have been, it is only the advent of a momentous shift in human evolution, community, consciousness and transformation. The real work of manifesting new possibilities begins now.
“It is in dire times when we discover who we truly are.”
Burden to Bear:
There is no doubt that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years. A perfect storm of disease, delusion, misinformation, social civil war and tragedy most of us have never experienced. Though our probable future looks as bleak as the last nine months, there is an evident, stark symbolism. In many ways, we are being birthed into a new era of existence. It may be difficult to see amidst the chaos and trauma that wreaks havoc upon our senses. The structures of social reality are transforming with the momentum of the current universal shift. We all have the unique opportunity to go with the flow of this movement. Now is the time to rise to the occasion and empower our global destiny.
To where, who and what we guide our attention sets the course of our existence. Our focus determines the realization of our being, energy and intention. When we are impelled to react to circumstances and people, we become a product of the reality to which we subscribe. When we are inspired to be proactive, we become creators of our reality. Our personal power begins with the intention of our focus, the expression of our energy and the unique purpose we manifest. All of us have, are and will always be centers of possibility for transforming any experience we may choose to empower. Collectively, we can revolutionize social reality by being the source of our transformation.
Origin of Being:
Recently, we have witnessed multiple examples of what, how and who not to be. When we turn on our devices, radios or televisions the archaically corrupt models of leadership let alone civility are well represented. In fact, social reality holds little space for authenticity, humility and honesty. The birthplace of being is in our breath. Seems simple. Yet it is always leaving us far more often than consciously taken. In the heat of the moment, when we cross the threshold of inner peace, patience and tolerance, breathing is the best practice we can choose. It brings awareness, being, focus, observation and serenity. Whether it is the life-sustaining oxygen, the vital reprieve from reality or shifting our experience, it is the source of our personal power.
Center as Self:
Whether we choose to acknowledge it, we are inclined to make ourselves the center of attention. It is a default, fixed way of emulation motivated by societal structures to enforce acquiescence, conflict, division and oblivion. Shifting our intention away from our individual experience to serve others in the spirit of community empowers us to transform our focus, way of being and ultimately social reality. The most powerful expression of transformation occurs when we transcend living self-centered by being a centered self. We establish our center by aligning with the universe through our intuition. This inspires us to be centered in our soul. True being thrives when it is experienced by all.
“Enlightenment is being sourced by our soul.”
“Only in the greatest adversity
we learn the difference between
what we think we want
and what we know we need.”
Lights, Camera, Action!
Social reality is accelerating and intensifying with every breath. If it was not evident before it most certainly is now. Widespread caution, hyperactive hysteria and imminent threat are everywhere. In an instant, concerts, sporting events and religious gatherings were cancelled. Bars, restaurants and movie theaters shuttered amidst the probabilities of what might occur. “Social Distancing” is an essential and popular lifestyle, though we often trend in that direction. The world is a much cleaner place as the absence of humanity in nature and the civilized world has had an immediate effect.
Agenda of Deception:
As obvious as the impacts of our current pandemic, political undercurrents are more apparent as recent events progress before our eyes. It is not just human beings victimized by disease, hardship and happenstance. Many ploys are transpiring in addition to the outbreak of a virus. Typically, when tragedy strikes in whatever form it may, there are always multiple, covert strategies being executed. A callous and clever few always seem to benefit from the simulated catastrophes that occur. This insight is the key to understanding and accepting the real tapestry of terror now reigning free at the heart of humanity.
The Usual Suspects:
Believe it or not, there has always been an elite sect of society who lack the commitment or willingness for community, empathy, morals and unity. Whether it is their genetics, ideologies, pedigree or privilege, there is an innate abyss between their desire and humanity. Power and profit rules supreme at the core of their objectives. Their desensitized rearing renders them oblivious to transcendent intuition, emotion and intellect. These ethical deficiencies are motivation for committing atrocities, maladies and tragedies for the sake of capital gain, influence and outcome. No crime is foreign to their appetite for power.
What is real is rarely what it seems. The distortion, manipulation and representation of reality is rhetorical, selective and subjective. Even perception of it has become mutable in the extreme. Technically it no longer exists. It is more likely we live in the oblivion of opinion than in the domain of actuality. Little by little the social paradigm of life has been modified into a projected illusion. The movie we call reality will always amuse, deceive, distract and entertain from the cradle to the grave. We are mere spectators watching the performers further promote the propaganda of their producers.
Diversion of Power:
We are multidimensional beings interacting with infinite realms of existence in any moment. We have the power to create, inspire, intend and manifest anything into our experience, even to the extent of transforming our reality and the world. Yet, it is our inclination to give our personal power away to authoritarian parties for fear of being accountable, authentic and conscientious. We often misinterpret this as a burden which distorts and diminishes our experience with our power. It harvests confusion, denial and doubt, further justifying our decision to acquiesce our unique self-expression in times when it is most necessary.
“We are all universal when we choose to be.”
During this contemporary, health pandemic, nature is reclaiming its breath and dominion. Traffic, overpopulation and the global carbon footprint are on the decline as society retreats in isolation for its survival. Mother Nature has placed us on house arrest. We have an extraordinary opportunity to shift our focus from the external world to the inner and beyond. Whatever introspection we may practice, our choice to become present to and relate with ourselves and the universe is our freedom from all we consent to socially enslaves us. Now we have the energy, time and space to empower our personal enlightenment.
We are in an extraordinary transition of energy. One requiring our awareness and engagement. Its quickening is evident, extreme and omnipresent. Fantasy and illusion are the echoes and shadows of existence, fading into social oblivion. All diversions vying for the focus of our attention and consciousness amidst the influence of our addictions are vanishing with the clarity of our evolving truth. No matter how challenging, overwhelming or impossible it may seem to endure and navigate our way through this experience, expressing our heart and soul is essential.
Education engenders oblivion. Experience teaches wisdom. Intuition is the key to the universe. Creativity, consciousness and truth are diamonds in the rising darkness. We exist in a social reality that does not empower the people. In the interest of control, society diminishes our universal experience with a two-dimensional perception in a three-dimensional reality. It is up to us to free ourselves from this social vicious cycle with our vision, intention and purpose. Now more than ever, our lives and those of others depend on our choice to transcend the boundaries of the illusion and become an expression of universality.
Pioneers of Purpose:
Human history is empowered by imagination, intuition and intelligence. Inspiration is the force that moves the world. Each one of us has a unique destiny to fulfill. Whatever and however it manifests, the difference it makes is vital to all. We are explorers navigating the terrain of social reality, discovering and becoming our purpose. Our personal power thrives when we choose to kindle it with our creativity. In these extreme times, the challenges facing us all are opportunities to transcend duality, disease and fear by transforming our experience with multidimensionality, wellbeing and love.
All Our Relations:
The current global situation calls for social separation, yet the notion of greater division between us all due to health necessity and the survival of society merits serious contemplation. For generations, we have consciously and instinctively trended toward segregation when given the opportunity to relate. Our intuitive nature is to connect, unite and belong. It is what inspires our greatest expressions, experiences and power. Social empowerment, transcendence and evolution are created by who we are being in our relations. Each of us brings the unique genius of our soul. Enlightenment is our choice to express and empower universality for all.
“Alone we may survive, together we will thrive.”
“The bus came by and I got on, that’s when it all began…” – Garcia, Weir, Kreutzmann
Wake of the Flood:
When I was sixteen years old I was walking down the hallway to my bedroom and I heard what sounded like an old blues singer belting out a song and picking on a guitar. I remember walking up to my brother Mark’s open bedroom door and saying, “what is this garbage?” Half joking and half genuinely interested. He responded, “it’s the Dead man.” in a tone as if I should have known. At the time I was headlong into the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Van Morrison, among others. I later found out the singer was Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, the song “Katie Mae” from “Bear’s Choice.”
The Golden Road:
I don’t remember when, where or how it happened, but I would quickly become a Dead Head. My first Grateful Dead shows were fresh out of high school in the Summer of my eighteenth birthday. I caught the last two shows of the 1990 Summer Tour in Chicago. It just so happened to be the last two shows of who would become my favorite Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland. There is nothing I could have done to prepare myself for this extraordinary, enlightening and revolutionary time in my life. The experience of the music, sense of belonging, camaraderie and feeling of euphoria would transform me forever. I was home.
“Inch your way through dead dreams to another land…” – Hunter
The Music Never Stopped:
The Grateful Dead personifies imagination. It is so much more than the music. I found the more I listened, the greater the benefit to my creativity, happiness and understanding. A world for which I had always yearned became possible. Beyond the music, it was the experience of family and community. I had always been into music and musically inclined since childhood. Soon after I picked up the guitar in my teens, it wasn’t long before I became mystified by the exploratory, improvisational and traditional styles of the Dead. It was then I first realized the band doesn’t play the music, the music plays the band.
Death Don’t Have No Mercy:
After Jerry Garcia died in August of 1995, I suddenly felt dissociated from the Grateful Dead. Though I had been drifting from going to shows due to his declining health, the impact of his passing was undeniable. I will always remember the first time I heard the music as much as I will recall the day of his passing. At the time I didn’t know if I would ever see them play again. The years sped by as I invested my listening into many other diverse genres of music. I explored Bluegrass to Traditional Irish, Latin and Afro Cuban to Jazz, Delta Blues to early Country. No matter how many styles I encountered, I always found my way back to The Dead.
“Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own.” – Hunter
While I was going to Dead shows in the early 1990’s, something amazing happened in my life. Their music empowered me to join a couple of bands that covered their songs. During this time, I began writing my own songs. There is something unique about the energy and experience of the Grateful Dead’s music that encourages creativity unlike any other musical group I have heard. In the advent of my own musical expression, I began to hear their music in an entirely different way. Beyond the notes, chord structures, vocal harmonies, jams and rhythms, there was a massive energetic presence, like the soul of a sun.
The Grateful Dead’s music is experimentally, multi-dimensional opening gateways on an intuitive and emotional level very difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t heard the music. The personal experience is interpretive like an abstract painting continually, organically and seamlessly morphing from one note into another enchanting the listener audibly so absolutely, the sound is almost visual. There are distinctive streams of consciousness conveyed by the energetic vibrations of the music transforming the very dynamic of the environment. Imagination blooms like a red rose in the bosom of Spring.
“Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from their axis…” – Hunter
There has always been an enigmatic movement of mystery woven into every Grateful Dead concert. A controlled chaos of anarchic notes and rhythms playing off each other in an obscure symphony of pioneering discovery akin to a space exploration. Thought, sense, emotion and spirit-invoking free-form jams guide the listener through “dead” dreams to another land. The mirror of contemporary reality shatters in formless reflections of matter. Where outside observers may see an elaborately concocted escape from everyday life, the “Deadicated” experience a personal and communal expansion of awareness, belonging and being.
Saint of Circumstance:
It had been several years since I had seen any current assembly of surviving Grateful Dead members perform together. With options a plenty, I found myself passing on them as they arose. Until I heard rhythm guitarist and vocalist Bob Weir and bass guitarist Phil Lesh were doing six limited, theater engagements in New York, Boston and Chicago. I was ecstatic at the prospect, until I found out both shows in Chicago were sold out. Accepting defeat, I resigned myself to the cold rain and snow. My friend Miko suggested submitting our names through a community connection. If notified via email, we would have the opportunity to purchase tickets. We were both selected!
“In the secret space of dreams, where I dreaming lay amazed.” – Hunter
Attics of My Life:
The days between purchasing the tickets and the shows flew by. Soon Miko and I were truckin’ down to Chicago for a couple of dates with destiny. Every mile we travelled intensified the excitement of once again being in the energy of musical fellowship. Eventually, like many other Deadheads, we began tossing out possible songs Bob and Phil may dust off and perform. Upon arrival, the marquee of the Chicago Theater illuminated N. State Street with “Bob and Phil Duo. SOLD OUT.” A growing collection of the faithful braved the chilly winds that blew through the city corridors. Several crashing the scene with fingers in the air looking for a miracle.
Playing in the Band:
Crossing the threshold of a venue at a Grateful Dead show is uniquely special. The excitement of simply being there is unparalleled. The 97-year-old theater offered the perfect atmosphere for history to be made. An antiquated red curtain hung at the front of the stage holding back the eager crowd’s anticipation. The sound of a distant bass and random notes from an acoustic guitar signaled the curtain to rise revealing Bob, Phil and Wally Ingram on percussion. “Box of Rain” met our adulation. It was the first song I had seen the Grateful Dead perform in Chicago at my first show almost 28 years ago.
“Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” – Hunter
The first night held many hallowed treasures. Intimate acoustic renditions of “Cosmic Charlie,” “Looks Like Rain,” “Estimated Prophet,” and “Operator,” among others with the trio of Bob, Phil and Wally. The second set yielded classics such as stripped-down versions of “Playing in the Band,” “Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain,” “Dark Star>St. Stephen,” Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and “Sugar Magnolia” with Bob, Phil, Wally, Jeff Chimenti, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. “U.S. Blues” closed the night as the 3,600-strong spilled onto N. State St. reveling in the afterglow of a momentous evening.
The red curtain rose on the second night to the familiar rhythms of “Cumberland Blues.” Bob, Phil and Wally served up acoustic selections of “Tennessee Jed,” “Alabama Getaway,” “Loose Lucy,” “Lazy River Road,” “Cassidy” and other rarities. The full group guided the second set with a beautiful rendering of “Crazy Fingers.” They played classics such as “New Speedway Boogie,” “Mountains of the Moon,” “Cryptical Envelopment>Let It Grow>The Other One” then back into the last verse of “Cryptical.” A stunning and emotional “Days Between” ended the seamless second set as the train pulled away from the last station on the tour.
“Fare you well, fare you well, I love you more than words can tell.” – Hunter
That’s It for The Other One:
We emerged from the Chicago Theater onto N. State Street, found our way to the car and were heading home from two unforgettable nights with Bob, Phil and friends. The Grateful Dead Channel on Sirius Radio carried us into the early morning as we drove through the night with the melodies and memories still ringing in our ears and hearts. Seeing the music in a historical theater with a modest audience was truly special. I was flooded with emotional reminiscence of my 32-year experience with the Dead. Reflections of adoration and gratitude sustained my bliss till the morning came.
What I may remember most fondly about the Grateful Dead is the community and goodwill shared with family, friends and others who experienced the inspiration and passion of excellent music and extraordinary company. Any musical group can bring people together. Few can keep them together for decades singing sweet songs to rock our souls. It has been almost 23 years since Jerry Garcia passed from this world. The music he made and influence he had upon millions of people continues to grow with each new generation. We will always hear your voice come through the music and we will always hold it dear as it were our own.
“If I knew the way, I would take you home.”
A Dime a Dozen:
I find it fascinating how people instinctually respond to events that don’t even happen to them. We as human beings have a tendency to overreact to the choices, actions and lifestyles of others, while we underreact to those of our own. We do so because of our lack of communication, experience and understanding about the circumstances of others. Our interpretations are based upon inaccurate and incomplete perceptions. We are quicker to criticize, judge, shame and dispose of people in our lives than we are to make a difference. Some do this to take opportunity from the downfall and disgraces of others, while most subscribe to this sociopathic behavior to conceal their dependency, disappointment, embarrassment, hurt and pain.
Yes, we all have it. Get over it. My friend Elva just recently wrote an article entitled, “The Writing on the Wall,” in which she acknowledges the awakening of the human race, then poses the question “what are we awakening to?” This is a much greater concept to ponder in light of the accelerated era of decline in which we currently find ourselves. We who have committed and practice a path of spirituality may not understand that with the expansion of our consciousness, so does our ego grow in equal or greater measure. When we chase after the light we are not present to the darkness we overlook in ourselves. Spirituality has become the new religion. As a culture we fail to observe the pompous influence of our judgement and self-righteousness.
Experience teacheth Wisdom?
Each of us have our own experiences. Though, we are more often preoccupied with those of others than our own. We are swift to pounce upon the downfallen in society to bolster our own image and status in the world. We manufacture false power through the negativity of demeaning, demonizing and disgracing others. We present ourselves as aggressive, arrogant, cynical, disempowering and sanctimonious much to our oblivion even when we express ourselves with the greatest of intentions. Our experiences teach us ways to break the patterns of society’s conditioning that ultimately transmutes humanity into a monstrosity. We sacrifice the wisdom we may kindle in life to achieve, acquire, compete, dominate and exceed.
Where is the Love?
We all embody ourselves as being civilized, creative, educated, intelligent, kind, spiritual and transcendent. Yet, when we find ourselves in challenging and overwhelming circumstances, we turn on ourselves and each other as fast as the speed of light. Our greatest friends become our bitterest enemies. What we believed, felt and thought yesterday is quickly discarded when we are confronted with conflicting beliefs or opinions distinct from our own. We not only disagree, we respond with outright anger, disdain, frustration and vitriol. Gradually we degrade and destroy all which we do not or are not willing to accept, consider or understand. The love we once had for everyone evaporates. Even our love for ourselves.
None of us, no matter how clever, creative, smart or spiritual we believe we are, are the ideal human being. Each of us has downfalls, flaws, negativity and weaknesses. This is the nature of humanity. It isn’t the people that present themselves with authenticity and integrity with who we have to be critical and suspicious. It is all who chose to present themselves as the ideal expression of existence we should be wary. These are the people who are manipulating reality to gain advantage, advancement, position and the conversion of the world to their own image, lifestyle and vision. The more we fashion ourselves in the shadow of others, the more personal power we sacrifice upon the altar of self-importance.
Everyone and everything in our lives serves as an all-encompassing mirror. How we respond to these elements of our experience determines how we think, feel, act and are. The attention and energy we give them ultimately produces the events that will occur to us in our present and future. How and who we choose to be in our everyday life defines who we become and who and what we attract into it. We do not get how powerful we are as human beings. If we did, we most certainly would not be jumping on the comment sections of website articles to take out our angst, drama, failures, fears, insecurities and disappointments about how our lives turned out due to our own lack of investment, involvement and fulfillment.
Our proverbial guns are locked and loaded for bear in any circumstance we may find ourselves. We are tinderboxes bouncing off of each other, who at any moment can spark, ignite and explode. More often than not we do so with the gravest of consequences. When our environment, experience and perception is challenged and/or compromised, we instantaneously react with a fervor that even shocks and terrifies us. By the time we are present to the impacts of our thoughts, words and actions, the damage has already been done. The scariest revelation is that we are not even conscious of the harm we willingly inflict upon others, when we believe we have been betrayed, deceived, manipulated and lead astray.
It is so easy, too easy, to sit down in front of a computer and open fire on what we perceive to be attacks upon our intelligence, faith, lifestyle, morals and well-being. The inadequacies and insecurities of our lives are on full display when we feverishly tap out our anger, disappointment, frustration and upset on our keyboards with a passion that is evidently lacking in our lives. No matter how much we engage in virtual confrontations upon the comment streams of someone else’s article will never change what is happening around us. We can only transform that which is occurring within us depending upon how we respond. The difference we make in our lives and the lives of others begins with our ability to accept all for who they are and who they are not.
Zen and Bear It:
I have known Zen Gardner for a few years. We email back and forth occasionally, share articles on www.zengardner.com and have similar interests. Most of us on the site do, contributors and readers alike. I read his article, “The Missing Years,” and was surprised at the vitriolic response it received. As I was reading, I became present to a part of his life that was both difficult and revelationary, written with sincere authenticity. We never know what we are into completely until we see “The Writing on the Wall.” Zen made a choice to make a difference and attempt to transform injustices he became aware of about something in which he once believed. When he realized he could not, he left it and moved on with his life. The question we all must ask ourselves every day is, “do we choose to make an opinion or a difference?”
The “I” Gene:
As human beings, we inherit a trait we accept as a belief that is conditioned into us during our social development. Inevitably, it becomes our common reality. It is a system fashioned on the principles of compliance, reliance and oblivion. For the sake of distinction, let’s call this trait the “I” Gene. The “I” Gene is an internal “schism,” (division). It is a separation not only from our external surroundings and the people in our lives; it is a severance from our self.
Before we have the opportunity to be introduced to ourselves, we are bombarded by society’s imposition of who we are expected to be. This collective obligation goes greatly unchallenged and is globally obeyed by humanity. As a species, we have maintained this solitary lifestyle for thousands of years. The “I” Gene has repressed our relatedness with our family members, our friends, our communities and ourselves. It has inhibited our consciousness, relatedness and fulfillment.
The “I” Gene is more than just a thought form, a feeling or an instinctual desire for our personal space. This trait has embedded itself into every aspect of our being. Its impression has been influencing us on a genetic level our entire lives. The “I” Gene uses our ego against us to keep us distracted with our worries, conditions, expectations and fears. Where the proactive side of our ego creates our personal power, the “I” Gene surrenders it. It is an inner “slight-of-hand” that may be the cleverest racket we run on ourselves.
We are preoccupied by our personal survival, the distractions in our daily lives, the relentless influence of our ego and our emotional dramas, upsets and attachments. We become the “I” Gene and it eagerly embraces us. It is a collapse in our being between who we perceive ourselves to be (which isn’t who we really are) and how society’s aggressive nature programs us to maintain its standards. The “I” Gene is so clever in its strategy; it conditions us to believe that who society desires us to be is who we are meant to be, and how our lives must to be lived. We not only obey it, we worship and promote it with our achievements (most often individual), yet curse it for our shortcomings. This is how we give away our personal power.
As children, life itself was creative and adventurous. It was customary for us to gather with our friends and wield our imaginations, wills, passions, talents and heroism freely and fully. We believed that anything was possible, until the demands of life, family, reality, school, career, and society methodically began taking our virtues, abilities and destinies away right under our naïve and unconscious noses. When we were young, the very notion of being alone and separate from our friends or family was absurd. Now it has become our commonly adopted “reality.” We are tethered to it by our fear, failure and social intimidation.
The “We” Gene:
Deep within the recesses of our repressed human nature resides our pure potential and possibility. These qualities connect us with the human race, nature, the universe and our selves. The “We” Gene is ever-evolving, all-conscious and all-inclusive. The “I” Gene ceases to exist in the presence of the “We” Gene, much as the darkness in the presence of the light. The “We” Gene is the magnificence we were when we were born, and who we are to become when we pass from this earth. However, it need not be only in our birth and death we experience this communion. It is possible in every moment of our lives when we transform the focus of our purpose from ourselves to all our relations.
There is something uniquely extraordinary when we experience the feeling of belonging. It enlivens and inspires us. It bestows upon us the wisdom of value, purpose, confidence and sustenance. In the now of this synchronicity, we achieve transcendence from our daily, ordinary life and we reclaim the innocence, wonder and enthusiasm we lived as children. It is not an “action” or even a “knowing.” It is our connection with true being. The majesty of belonging happens when we choose to experience oneness with all. A network of energy unites all whom are resonating on this energetic frequency. “Reality” disappears in the presence of awareness and the truth of our existence as human beings emerges in the expression of our consciousness.
“If we don’t live together, we’re going to die alone.”
At some time in our lives, we were misled to believe that we alone are the sole sustainers of our lives. This is not true. We have all been corralled into institutionalized education, established religion, political viewpoints and social hierarchies. We have allowed ourselves to be placed into positions contributing more to our society’s problems than its solutions. We see the wisdom and strength of community only when our lives are severe and challenging. Only when our experiences humble our egos are we able to witness the faults in our social paradigm. The question we should ask ourselves is why has it become so natural for us to retreat back into the co-dependent security of ourselves?
We have been conditioned both within by our ego and without by society to not listen to others, therefore we don’t listen to ourselves. When we don’t allow ourselves the freedom and power of trusting others, we don’t trust ourselves. When we don’t convey confidence in others, we fail to establish our own. When we struggle with offering compassion and kindness to others, we aren’t able to be empathetic with ourselves. When we condemn the character of others, we denounce our own. When we are unwilling to express unconditional love and support to others, we will never be able to embrace the pure joy it is to love and be loved.
There is only one way to experience community. It is in the expression of our service to others. Not the service we provide to society for which we are compensated. It is the unconditional service we choose to give for the sake of giving. There is no greater fulfillment we will experience than the relation and belonging genuine service to others inspires. It is the essential foundation of our present and ultimately our future. When we as a society view community as an option, we will merely survive. When we as a society choose to experience community as a necessity, we will always thrive.
Community is our living truth as human beings.
It is our destiny.
It is the only thing besides love that will transform our world.
Into the Mystic:
Before the era of mainstream spirituality and experiential ontology, religion ruled the kingdom of belief. Billions of congregational followers flocked to their chosen church, temple, synagogue, mosque, shrine or sacred monument to seek answers only their Priest, Minister, Rabbi, Imam or Guru could provide. Then, the spiritual revolution occurred and suddenly many seekers woke up to the realization they alone were responsible for their salvation.
Suddenly, the western world was awash with books, lectures, seminars, weekend retreats, weekly classes and You Tube videos selling shamanism as an applicable profession in the “real” world. For hundreds or thousands of dollars one could become a shaman and almost instantly open a practice and facilitate ceremonies to heal and teach others to become one as well. Eventually, common spiritualists came out in droves to answer this inauthentic, materialistic calling of the “new age.”
The shaman movement attracted curious, newly awakened, spirit-starved romantics seeking instant enlightenment through the repackaging of the oldest practices in the world. Enter the opportunist that would reinvent the role of the intercessor to guide the re-born masses to Shambhala. Now, more than anytime in the history of humanity, we see such a buzz and hullabaloo around the spiritual title “shaman,” and the broad range of modalities in which they may perform.
All That Glitters is not Gold:
In the midst of the excitement and fervor, these ancient ways were “modernized” into a form easier to understand, attain and practice. The very essence of these sacred traditions and the experience required to properly practice them were sacrificed upon the altar of spiritual egotism and personal profit. The rituals that had taken decades of time or longer to traditionally learn and perform would take only a matter of months, weeks or even days to the contemporary shaman.
The more this spiritual wildfire spread, the more the traditions were altered and/or re-invented to gratify a popular want in modern society. Millions of people have been introduced to ways aged in the hundreds and thousands of years. Yet, their teachers are not all wise and learned elders whose bloodlines had carried the cultural customs for generations. The majority of the intercessors are merely actors most often playing a role that is far beyond their comprehension, ability, humility and commitment.
Now, it has become a trend to be a shaman. Many mystify the masses with charisma, confidence, a little bit of knowledge and presentation ceremonies that may even harm the patients or participants more than they heal. They have shifted the focus of the practice more upon themselves than on the spirits sourcing the medicine or the people requesting healing. In many ways, the contemporary shaman has stigmatized and discredited the medicine way and caused challenges for the traditional ceremonial healers and their tribes. The spiritualization and glamorization of these ancient, sacred paths have altered them forever.
The Heart of the Tribe:
There is a vital distinction between one who labels oneself a shaman and one who is a traditional ceremonial healer. The ceremonial healer most often has grown up and lives in or around the community the medicine tradition has been kept. The shaman most often has/does not. The healer is willing to conduct a ceremony for very little financial return. The contemporary shaman most often may not. Most people whom practice ceremonial medicine do not call themselves shaman and some do not even know what that is.
In indigenous communities, those whom have understood plants, roots and our relation to the natural world have always held a vital role in the health and well being of their tribe. Even to this day, when conventional doctors and the medical industry cannot treat the direst of situations, many traditional ceremonial healers are consulted and willing to help. More often than not, they are severely under-compensated in comparison to modern-day physicians. Yet, the commitment they made upon first entering their lifetime service far outweighs any concerns of comfort, convenience or status.
For many traditional ceremonial healers their experience began from the time they were adolescents, some from the time of childhood and some even from the time they were born. It was a way of life for them for decades before the elders of their tribe acknowledged them as a leader on the medicine path. To this day, it is a custom and a lifestyle that helps to sustain the strength, wisdom, history and ritual of their culture. It is a tradition that preceded them long before they were born and will succeed them long after they have passed.
Few are called, Even Fewer are Chosen:
With the steady stream of spiritual practices and their accessibility over the last century, a decisive and detrimental shift has occurred. There has been a gradual disassociation between the roots of these ancient ways and how they are conveyed and exist in the modern world. To a great degree, the commercialization and popularization of these traditions has diminished their power and altered the expression of their energy. The contemporary spin of these ancient practices has also provided inaccurate depictions and unrealistic perceptions to the unaware and unsuspecting novice.
The traditional medicine way is not something one may choose to become; it is something that chooses the ceremonial healer. When this sacred exchange is established between the person who vows to help others and the spirits who bring the medicine, it is as natural as the progression of life. They exhibit an awareness, intent and humility rarely beheld or experienced in our modern society. Their commitment and dedication is beyond comfort, convenience, reason, sense and imagination.
As with many ceremonial practices, it is not about service to the self for financial, social or personal, spiritual benefit. It is not about the number of patients/followers or how many referrals one may gather. Rarely, if ever, does an authentic traditional healer consider ceremonial medicine an occupation or primary source of income. It is about service to all without attachment. It is the understanding and practice that the health and well being of a person in need far exceeds maintaining an image of importance or a lucrative practice.
The path of the traditional healer is one of the most difficult ones to walk. There are very few, if any, reference points and it requires an extraordinary level of consciousness, compassion, purpose and dedication. An authentic ceremonial lifestyle requires everything of the traditional healer. There are no shortcuts and no concessions. The ceremonial path may be one of the most amazing lifestyles we as human beings may experience.
If the shaman represents the branch of the ceremonial tree, the traditional healer is its root.