Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Quiet Party

In the silence, things are revealed.

Things that cannot be heard in the noise of modern life.

For the most part, our culture fears silence because of its revelatory power, both good and bad. We do have so many secrets.

Usually, the first thing us humans encounter in the silence is our thoughts. So we fear the silence because, we fear our own thoughts. And wouldn’t you know it? The pesky ones we try so hard to push away are usually the first to surface.

That’s a drag, so instead we block out the silence. We come home, we go to the fridge and we turn on the tv. We push our consciousness through a kind of predictable tunnel. And the tunnel has a weight, a momentum that is hard to break.

It takes a big experience like falling in love or the loss of a loved one to crack open the tunnel. But the thing is, no matter how life altering the experience, we have an uncanny way of eventually finding our way back to the tunnel where things are safe, warm and pretty doggone mediocre. Well, lately, mediocrity is even giving the tunnel too much credit. We’ve sunk somewhere below mediocrity into absurdity.

The silence, however, is a challenge to the tunnel. Like love and loss, silence also opens us up. It allows us to become present with our boredom, our emptiness. Thoughts, as I’ve said, crowd in, deafening. But over time, one learns how to sift through those thoughts. You put the defeating ones on a shelf, or maybe you surrender to them with tears, but not for too long. You put the habitual ones on another shelf, and just try to keep a friendly distance from those. You put the thoughts of others on yet another shelf for further inspection. (But be careful. The sifting of thoughts can become a tunnel of its own.)

Then every once-in-awhile, in the silence you recognize an exciting thought that leads you down the rabbit hole. It stirs something within you, like the memory of a distant voice. Maybe it is hardly a voice at all and more like a feeling. It stirs you to action. Maybe you write it down. Maybe you make a collage. Maybe you fix something. Maybe you share your idea with another. Maybe you make the bed.

Or maybe you just shut up and listen. And then respond. Listen. Respond. You begin to have a conversation with what is. In the silence, our senses unfurl, like tendrils. We hear the wind. Bird. We smell the air, and perhaps notice that when the sun comes out for a moment from behind the clouds on a grayish day, the grass responds to the sun by releasing a stronger scent. Smell the greeting of the grass and the sun.


It is all so alive.

In the silence, one can slip into the role of the third person who watches. From that perspective, when someone, let’s say, cuts you off in traffic, you become frustrated for a moment, sure. You are yanked back down to a lower consciousness. But if you’ve been practicing as the watcher, you are more easily able to slip back into higher consciousness.

I don’t mean to imply that the higher consciousness is a way to avoid emotion. You feel the anger but in the silence, you more easily and quickly move to another place, like finding shade on a hot day. Why stay hot when the shade is right next to you?

Maybe to be enlightened means that you live in that higher consciousness all the time, or, I don’t know, 90% of the time. Those people, from what I’ve heard, have had some kind of major divine intervention. For most of us poor schmucks it’s just something we have to practice. It’s hard for a beginner like me and very time consuming, but also cleansing, like a good poop.

“And one should never underestimate the satisfaction of a good poop, I always say,” says Mr. Octopus, who is, pretty much, enlightened.

It’s called higher consciousness because it lifts you higher. Duh! Sort of like being high, but with better side affects.

And I suspect there’s more to the silence than even all of that. It’s exciting. But for now, this is as far as I’ve gotten.

So, what the hell? Turn off that tv once-in-awhile. Turn off that radio. Let the emptiness emerge and let the quiet part begin! Whoop whoop! The secrets are not as bad as we think. The truth is always better, even though its emergence is sometimes painful.

“Like a poop,” says Mr. Octopus.

“Yes, just like a hard poop,” I agree.

In silence we can hear the truth of ourselves, and, well, it’s not all bad! Geesh!



I looked back on the past and recalled my people’s old ways, but they were not living that way any more. They were traveling the black road, everybody for himself and with little rules of his own…I was in despair…” –Black Elk

There is an understanding in indigenous cultures that any changes we make must be sanctioned by spirit. That’s why these cultures are tradition-heavy. You don’t make a move without spirit. And their shamans and elders have the means to discern whether or not something has the blessing of spirit.

Because of this, change takes time. There is a constant effort to maintain a harmony between the physical world and the spirit world. Sure, we’re not perfect. Sometimes we fall out of step with spirit, but when this happens, measures are taken to correct it.

Now, the problem that I have with technology is that the techno wizards have us so busy trying to keep up with them that we have left spirit in the dust. We have untethered ourselves, so to speak, from the past, from tradition and from spirit. We are out here alone.

However, sadly, in life, we can’t go back. Even if we wanted to, I doubt many of us would survive a season living indigenously. What do you mean I have to tote that water three miles? And what’s with all the bugs?

“What do you suggest?” asks, Mr. Octopus.

“Well…I was thinking…maybe we could slow down a little.”

“Keep drrreaming.”

This super-fast techno highway is doubly sad for me. Not only are we untethered from the past as a whole, but I don’t think I can go where our culture is headed. Woe is me. I am lost somewhere between longing for the ancient wisdom and a fear of the future. I am really alone. Well, there’s probably a few more in-betweeners out there.

For instance, in the last blog, I talked about this natural rhythm of switching our consciousness on and off at rapid intervals and how technology interferes with that, causing an energy leakage. Well, if you look at science fiction, which I think is a cultural visualization of our future, according to books  and movies like Neuromancer, Aeon Flux and Blade Runner to name a few, our bodies will adapt to the machine. Pretty soon, you won’t need a cell phone. You’ll have a chip imbedded in you somewhere that will make the call. Leakage, bleakage, who cares? I have a chip! Whoopee!

Now, while there are millions of people out there fantasizing about that chip and what it will let them do, I am fantasizing about learning the ancient ways. I could care less about a chip. I abhor the chip. I just can’t get a fucking chip! I can’t! I won’t! Aargh!

“RRRelax,” urges Mr. Octopus. “No one wants to give you a chip.”

“They’re already putting chips in dogs! I swear. It’s a locating device in case the dog gets lost. Soon they’ll be doing it to babies. No baby chips! No baby chips!”

There was a book published some years ago called Mutant Message Down Under. It received a lot of criticism and some argued that it wasn’t authentic. I don’t know if the story is true or not, but I know I was moved by it. It is the story of a white woman who goes on walk-about with an aboriginal group in Australia. This group collectively decided not to procreate. They felt that world of the future would not support their traditional way of life and did not want to bring any future generations forth.

Honey, I feel their pain. Indigenous cultures have strong ties to the past. Those cultures are anchored by tradition. They deeply appreciate the methods that have sustained their way of life for eons, and that includes a balance between themselves, nature and spirit. Those traditions are more flexible and adaptive than one might think. There is the understanding that for the tradition to be kept alive it has to change. But the change is rooted to something strong, like a tree.

In the absence of traditions in our modern life, what’s anchoring us? I worry for the little ones coming here. They’ll have a mess on their hands.

“You are starting to sound like a negatorrr,” says Mr. Octopus.

“I know. I’m sorry. There is still so much beauty in the world… I saw the sunset tonight. For a moment, I felt the is-ness of it all, the biting cold, the traffic, the city lights, and I felt deeply grateful to be alive.”

“OK. Just checking.”


Approaching the blank page is just like approaching the barre. Just like it! Delightful and intimidating. So, here goes, 5-6-7-8.

We perceive time as a continuity. But it is not. Rather, we blink on and off in increments so rapid as to be imperceptible to our normal waking consciousness.

“How do you know that?” asks Mr. Octopus.

“How do you know you have a pancreas? Have you ever seen it?”

“No, but my doctor has.”

“Well, I can’t get into how I came to understand this, given our culture’s prejudice against certain ways of knowing.”

“Meaning you were high.”

“I will just say here that I had the experience of perceiving these breaks, these moments when I switched off. It was sort of like time slowing down just enough for me to feel it. Later, I read about this very phenomenon in an esoteric spiritual text. I think it was somewhere in the Seth material, channelled by Jane Roberts.”

“Well, that’s credible enough for me. I’ll alert NASA.”

“Whatever. Science is for amateurs.”

“Don’t knock what you don’t understand.”

“Well, you don’t knock what you don’t understand. It works both ways.”

“You have a point. Tea?”

“Earl Grey?”

“Of course.”

“If one is quiet enough and focuses steadily on the thread of their consciousness, a subtle bump, a hiccup in the thread may be perceived. It is easier to perceive this in quiet and in nature. I suppose this is because the on and off has a rhythm that is tied into the rhythms of our bodies, our blood pulsing through our veins, and the rhythms of all of nature.”

“You have way too much frrree time on your hands.”

“When I had the experience of clicking on and off, I couldn’t remember where I was when I was off, but suspect that it was the place we all go to in deep sleep. The place we go to renew life-force.”

“And why are you bothering me with this now? I do have so many socks to wash.”

“Because I’m worried about us humans and especially about the young people. I worry that machines, the technology that we are constantly plugged into adversely affects this most basic and essential on/off rhythm. I’m just going on intuition here but the cell phones, the iPods, the computers, the constant hum affects the off phase. In other words, when we are plugged into technology, we are not allowing ourselves to click off completely in those rapid, imperceptible instances.

Imagine our consciousness as fluid being pumped through a tube. When we are plugged into the machine, it is like there is a leak of energy through the tube. A leak of life-force energy. Or, to use another metaphor, imagine a group of people setting up camp to go to sleep for the night. The people hear a noise in the darkness and fear danger so they take turns during the night to keep watch. At some point during the night, the person whose turn it is to keep watch will have their sleep interrupted.

Well, when we are plugged into the machine, there is a part of us that has to keep watch against danger, against this intruder, the machine. The machine has a rhythm that is not organic. It goes against our natural on/off rhythm. So we do not completely blink off. It is like a leak. Some part of us keeping watch. The experts say that a little microwave here, a little cell phone there is not enough to hurt us, but I’m not so sure. I am not a scientist, but I’m not a dope either. This shit ain’t right.”

“Ok. What if I agree that technology is adversely affecting us. Even if that’s true, there’s nothing to be done about it. It’s evolution.”

“That’s a cop-out. Evolution, as it’s called is a way of telling a story. Funny, so many Christian fundamentalists oppose evolution, but the story of evolution, in a way, is just like the stories in the bible! Evolution as we understand it will one day be obsolete. It will be read as something that arose in a certain context, like a  myth, and which no longer applies.”

“Are you saying that we didn’t grow out of the ape family?”

“Not exactly. I’m saying that evolution is simply one way of telling the story of humanity. I think if you ask the millions of people around the world whose ancestors were slaughtered, whose civilizations were wiped out to feed our modern way of life, they wouldn’t call where we’re at evolution. We used to hide behind religion to do our evil deeds, but now we use science. We call it progress. We call it evolution. But who gets to evolve? The most greedy and violent culture, that’s who. I don’t see that as evolution.”

“But you have to consider that if human beings are a part of nature, then what is happening with technology is part of nature too.”

“I have. I’ve also considered the irony, or maybe the hypocrisy, of writing a blog that is critical of technology. Look, you can be awake inside the Matrix or not. All I’m saying is that we have a choice here.”

“Well, how do you know that choice, as you call it, is not part of the illusion, part of the Matrix?”

“Why would the illusion give me a choice to see outside of it?”

“Maybe because it loves you. Haha. Or maybe it is simply the nature of the illusion to give you a choice. And maybe you are just as much of an illusion as the rest.”

[Long pause.]

“More tea?” asks Mr. Octopus.


“Why do try so harrrd to figurrre this stuff out?”

“Maybe it’s just my nature.”

“Trying to know the mind of God, arrre we?”

“God. God is a process.”

“Maybe God is evolving.”

“Could be bunny rabbit, could be.”


You can think of it this way: there are two kinds of idealism.

The first kind is positive. Though you are reaching for something impossible, you will inevitably achieve something worth while along the way. This kind of idealism operates on faith. Blind faith? Well look, for it to be faith, there has to be the element of blindness. Something you can’t see, or else it wouldn’t be faith. Faith, as I’ve said before, according to teacher Ken, is doing something, taking action, that you know to be right, even though you do not know the outcome. So the first kind of idealism, the positive one, is based in faith. It moves you to do something.

It is possible to have this kind of idealism without being idealistic. In other words, you may very well be aware of the impossibility of your task, but you don’t lead with a sense of being right. You lead, already accepting that you don’t know. You lead with humility. Humility, according to teacher Ken, is an honest statement of what is. Dig? An honest statement of what is.

Now, the second kind of idealism is negative. It seeks to destroy. It says that everything is corrupt so why even try? The world and nothing in it is good enough for this kind of idealist. This kind of idealism leads with the ego.

“Why are we having this converrrsation?” asks Mr. Octopus.

“Because I have an idealistic student on my hands.”

“Which kind? First or second?”


“Sorry. That must be difficult.”

“It’s a pain in the ass, but, if I remember correctly, I was a pain in the ass at that age too.”

“Hard to believe.”

“I think it’s confusing for young people to have something they love and hate at the same time. They haven’t realized yet that everything has a shadow. Even themselves. And so, when something does not work out the way they want, they chose to hate it instead of doing the work of acceptance and growth.”

“I blame Chrrristianity.”

“Damn straight. Look, let’s face it, whether or not you call yourself a Christian, you are under its influence by the very nature of being here, in this country, or in modern Western culture. In this heavily Christian-influenced culture, we are constantly torn between extremes: good and evil, heaven and hell, sinner and saint, virgin and whore, etc.

There is not a symbol, an emphasis, even a discussion as far as I know (and I went to Catholic school) around balance. The object in Christianity seems to be to extinguish the dark side. But in reality, we have a shadow. In a way, we are a shadow: a shadow of a shadow of a shadow. I think it must be infinite in each direction. Anyway, duality is what it means to be here, alive in this world as a human-a-being.

In the Eastern traditions, well, things just seem a little more grown up to me. You have the symbol of yin and yang: in the darkness there is light and in the light there is darkness. The goal is to find balance between these two.

“So what does all that have to do with your rrrebellious student?”

“Well, she has to understand that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. All a’s or life is not worth living. She has to accept her own shadow. Only in doing that will she ultimately find her power.”

“Now, don’t go getting all seduced by the darrrk side of the force on me.”

“Of course not. That’s why I have you.”

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