Alchemy for the Braindamaged XX: To Stand at the Edge of the World

    And here we are. the pod and direct download are both still a bit prone to go 404, but if you try either a few times in succession it should work.

  I will polish the rough edges off this system in short order, but I’m sure you’re all clever enough to find your way around it for now.

  As to content, well, you’ll perhaps find  me faltering in my speech, awkward with the mic, and painfully earnest, but i think I get the point across. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have tried to compose my thoughts in real-time.  

  This is not truly the end of the series mind you, merely a change of form and substance. In fact, new material should come with even greater regularity, as it’s much easier for me to rant for half an hour than hunch over a keyboard pecking away for two days.

  But enough for now, I’m already thinking of the next one. For simplicity’s sake keep the comments here if you can.

   Having come to the end, change. Having changed, pass through

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Alchemy for the Braindamaged XIX: Controlled Demolition

 And here we are, the penultimate chapter of this series. One more run around the block before I break down and tell you what it’s getting at. Twenty seems like a nice number, and hardly a planned one. I could squeeze a couple more in there but It hardly seems essential. Time is of the essence.

So down to work.

In any process of personal transformation, there is the inevitable collision with what can only be characterised as a wall. A simple, yet adamant refusal of some part of the mind to go any further. Some habit, some routine, some fondly held belief, or context that will not yeild to any degree of effort. To fling oneself against the unmovable seems sure to plunge one into madness or despair.

Maybe you can’t visualise what you actually want. You’re bound up in endlessly circular sniveling and whining about what you don’t want. You can’t sit still for more than fifteen minutes, because it feel like ants are burrowing into your subcutaneous fat and supping on your blood. You have no idea what might constitute ‘happy’, ‘relaxed’, ‘optimistic’ or ‘creative’. You see other people do these things, or what looks like these things, but you have no clue whatsoever how that might become true for you.

All these seemingly disparate problems are actually the same problem. They all represent a profound terror of losing or destabilising one’s sense of self. Where you locate that sense is perfectly variable, but everyone puts it somewhere. Your feelings, your beliefs, your material circumstances, your body, your relationships. Maybe you do a little circular bucket brigade from one to the other, when one of them starts to look shaky. In fact, that’s probably exactly what you do. But chances are there’s one or two that will not yield or shift in any lasting way. The real cornerstones of the static ego. Or the attempt at a static ego, as the case may be.

It should be abundantly clear by now that you can do just about anything. Certainly you can be as happy, as creative, as smart, as rich or famous as any other human at the very least. If you know that, then what’s the fucking problem? It’s not that your mind is averse to better or richer experiences. It just has trouble beleiving them to be possible. It has difficulty relinquishing the present circumstance to move towards the new one.

You ‘ve probably all experienced that sense at least once. That sense of free fall? When you actually made a definitive break with the past and moved into the unknown.

Now before you start patting yourself on the back as some radical innovator who can drop everything and go hike to peru, or live out of a backpack and squat in an abandoned building and dumpster dive, consider that the real stubborn changes are internal ones. It’s easy to up and leave your external circumstances, it’s easy to quit your job, compared to facing the real issues that probably drove you to do those things in the first place. It’s hard to let go of your obsessive need for approval or control or recognition. It’s hard to let go of your ongoing lusts, fears and obsessions, even when you can see they don’t serve you anymore. It’s hard to love unselfishly.

Can you even imagine letting go of anger altogether? Where is it writ large that humans beings have to get angry? or fearful? or desperate? or depressed? Certain physiological phenomena are inevitable, but transitory. That’s no excuse to dig yourself into the same emotional or existential hole that everyone else is living in. The fact that everyone seems to be doing it, ought to be reason enough to question it.

Some people learn to love their jailers, to need their jailers, to want to please the authors of their captivity.

What you need to get through your head is that YOU are your jailer. YOU are your own worst enemy. YOU are the one who is holding you back. YOU are the barrier to full potential.

If your life has been going so great up until now, what the fuck are you doing here? You can’t have it both ways. You don’t get to change irrevocably and stay the same in all the comforting ways.

The world will get along just fine if you change everything about yourself. Nobody knows, nobody cares. Most people who ‘know’ you won’t even notice, and if they do, they’ll probably just pretend it isn’t happening. The last thing a prisoner wants to do is admit that you can just leave at any time. Your social life will probably not fall into upheaval if you chuck all your internal neurotic bullshit. And even if it did, wouldn’t that be preferable anyway? What the fuck are you so eager to hang on to?

If by some sci fi contrivance someone were able to steal your body, your life, they would probably fumble around for a couple days and then adapt so smoothly no one would ever notice something had changed forever. You know it’s true. Even the people who claim to know and love you the best would not see that ‘you’ were gone. And you know why? Because ‘you’ are constantly changing all the time already, and does anyone notice? Not really. Not anymore than makes them comfortable to do, which is probably related to exactly how comfortable they are with changing constantly themselves.

So, really, the only possible authentic life or realtionship in this world is based on constant, never-ending upheaval and complete change.

The sooner you get rid of this idea that you are the same entity that was extruded from your mother’s womb at birth, the happier you will be. You are not even the same entity you were yesterday. These ideas about what you are, are ghosts and they will haunt you unto death.

Unless you kill them first.

  These voices in your head that are constantly making statements about who and what you are, do not magnify extend or optimise your capabilities in any way. In a sense these insert themselves as intermediaries between your total mental resources and the world outside of you. They insert themselves for the sole purpose of maintaining the delusion of static identity. They don’t help you do anything, except perhaps to cope with the fear that you don’t really exist as some unchanging essence. And they don’t even do that very well, because that fear has probably never gone away for more than a few bare seconds in total of the course of your life, and probably never will, until you quit playing the game with these voices.

 This arraingement will take one of a several forms in the final analysis:

 first possibility; the voices break you entirely. you capitulate to your fears, expectations and beliefs about life, and do your best to carve out whatever sort of satisfactory existence your life script will permit you have. welcome to 99% of the human race.

 second possibility: you formulate some novel scenario for your life, and by hook or crook, manage to outmaneuver the voices that want to hold you in fearful stasis. You hijack any and every tool at your disposal to accomplish the emotional breakthrough on the other side of the wall, and then go back to sleep. Hopefully you don’t commit suicide when your old walls are replaced by brand new ones, and your new world sucks as bad as the old one sooner or later. This is 99% of the remaining 1%. Welcome to an anthony robbins seminar.

third possibility: you reorient your life to continuously tearing down your walls and undermining your limiting voices. you alternate between ruthless and somewhat depressing gruntwork to learn new things, and the ecstasy of breaking through old limitations.  This turns out to be much more satisfying than actually getting any hypothetical goal or emotional cookie. You eventually learn that having goals makes for useful focal points, but getting them is not especially important, leading you to set goals as close to utterly impossible as you can, and enjoying the ride. Conversely, you embrace an outcome utterly for a short period of time and then drop it when you integrate the new perspectives it offers. Hopefully you elude the slight risk of falling into a depression or dependence on something external to make the ride keep going. If you extend this practice long enough you eventually realise the utter transparency or provisional nature of all your identities and inner voices, leading you to notice the larger nigh-infinite consciousness that was always present to begin with. You may count yourself in the ranks of shamans, magi and visionary artists of all stripes since the dawn of time, but that’s just one more t-shirt for the collection by the time you get there. Life is funny that way.

 fourth possiblity:You utterly relinquish all of your ego attatchments in some profound act of devotional surrender to the vastness of creation. In which case skip to the end of possiblity three, and then some. This option remains open at any time, but it is historically not very popular, although those who pull it off tend to be. Make of that what you will.

 Homework:

  I’m not going to presume to tell you which option you should address, so I’ll prescribe a course of action for each one.

 Option one: Do nothing. Very easy, and the best part is you’ve already done it! Give yourself a pat on the back.

  Option two: Do your best to cultivate some kind of obsessive desire for a carefully specified outcome. Do anything and everything it takes to get it, within the bounds of your morality and conscience. Any of the tools I’ve offered up so far are helpful in this regard, but I tend to think of that as a bit of a waste.

Option three: If you’ve been along for the ride thus far and actually doing anything, you’re well on your way. The sooner you move your emphasis from getting the things on your list, towards understanding the progressive growth of creativity, flexibility, and insight, the sooner you will see the true purpose of the magickal path.

Option four: Dramatic but effective; Spend a whole day trying to convince yourself you are afflicted with some terminal illness and only have one year to live. Immerse yourself in that sense of despair, frustration, sadness and eventual acceptance. When you feel like you’ve made peace with it and understood how to live your remaining life in that light, get up the next day and imagine your only have a month to live. This will repeat the experience at a higher level of intensity and dig up any attachments you missed the first time.

  Then do it again the next day, but only give yourself a single day to make your peace with life. By this point it will become very very clear how useless most of your mental activity is most of the time. If need be do it one more time and live out the last hour of your life. If you perform this exercise to the utmost even once, your life will never be the same, and to do it over and over again will lead you to the goal in short order.

Alchemy for the Braindamaged XVIII: A line in the Self

And the objects that they make have the peculiar ability to themselves generate this linguistic “stuff” which condenses as other objects. So beings are making objects, showing you objects, the objects are turning into beings and making other objects, these beings and objects, they jump into your chest – and then they jump back out. They jump into your body and disappear into your body, and then they jump back out, waving these things, just throwing this stuff in all directions.-Terrence McKenna

 

 

 

 

This will be an update to some of the principles of banishing, an answer to a couple of questions, and an entry into some new territory altogether, so buckle up.

There’s an awful lot of discussion these days about what can be grouped under the broad heading of ‘the other’. Sometimes that other is an alien, a supernatural manifestation, a diety, the dissassociated self, or the self-transforming machine elves from hyperspace.

What they all have in common is that they appear to exist outside the boundaries of the self. It probably goes without saying that without a self there is no other, But I’ll bring it to the forefront of our discussion becuase it’s crtically important.

Terence Mckenna once said that the great project of the twentieth century was one of boundary dissolution. between the conscious and the unconscious, order and chaos, black and white, civilised and tribal, male and female, self and other. Surrealism, dada, feminism, psychedelics, civil rights, psychiatry and psychotherapy, free love and the sexual revolution. Boundaries dissolved or in the process of dissolving.

But then what? You can’t neccisarily dissolve all your boundaries can you? Some people might like to, but is that always a good thing? There are plenty of opportunists, human or not, that would love to take advantage of your dissolving boundaries.

The media, for example, is utterly saturated front to back with messages that try to impinge on your boundaries and implant imperitives that are foreign to your preexisting sense of self. Indeed, the whole world is full of little selves that would love to imprint on you. As I’ve said we’re hypnosis machines and invading and colonising each others headspaces is the way it’s done round here.

When you undertake the practice of banishing, you are, in effect, taking the plastic, permeable, boundary between self and other and modifying it in some way. You contract it to expell foreign influences, expand it to encompass new ones, harden it to repel invasive forces and soften it to allow desirable or benign ones acess.

But, of course, everytime you do this you’re actively redefining what exactly is ‘self’ and ‘other’. The self is whatever is inside the line you happen to draw, and the other is whatever is left out.

Take feelings for example: you all probably have the one friend who cannot get their shit together. Someone who is constantly buffeted by a victim mentality, who feels put-upon, persecuted and overwhelmed. They happily try to dump their negative feelings on anyone who will listen.

Most people in that situation will be aware of that friends feelings, but not neccisarily identify with them. Others will be completely detatched and wonder what the big goddamn deal is all the time. Then there are others still who will take on those feelings so totally, that they cannot seperate themselves from it. for all intents and purposes, the other persons feelings are their feelings. No boundary = No difference. The only thing that changes from one to the next is the strength and size of the line drawn around self.

And there’s really nothing to say you can’t draw and redraw that line anywhere you like. You could even take a long-existing behavior or persona and eject it completely, simply by redrawing the line to exclude what you don’t want anymore.

So in short, banishing is that process by which you draw the line. Exactly how you do it entirely ideosyncratic. What matters is you incorporate whatever symbolism or activity will make that experience more real to you. You talked yourself into the boundaries you have now. You can talk yourself into new ones. However you do it, it’s important to repeat it the same way, over and over again. Your mind responds to effort and repetition. It notices the things you do constantly and will move to support them.

Let’s say you have the nagging voice of your ten year old self constantly dragging you down with fear and poor self esteem. You could just close you eyes and say piss off, but what works better is to surround yourself with symbols of success and confidence, visualise your whiny ten year old self in front of you,  and then physically mime shoving him or her out of the circle. Then you reaffirm your more current state of confidence and self-esteem, and then force the ejected self to renegotiate your relationship before re-integrating them. If you can’t come to some kind of accord then tell the little bastard to fuck off. Repeat that twenty or thirty times over the course of a month or two and you’ll probably be getting somewhere.

Now you might ask: how does this process apply to entities that seemingly have their own volition and autonomous existance? Those things are surely not manifestations of my self?

Not directly, no. But the funny thing is, the moment you define the boundaries of the self, you have at the exact same time defined the boundaries of the other. Think of it like both sides of the crinkly edge of a fractal. Every step you take into the other is one step the other takes backwards. Everything you take from outside and integrate is one less attribute whirling around in the deep waters of the not-self.

So even if you encounter something that seems utterly strange and alien to you, the only reason that’s so is because you made it that way. From the buddhist perspective all identities are delusional postulates with no inherent reality. they may function as autonomous entities but in truth it all emerges from the same flickering void of nothingness, and that’s where it goes back to in the end. The aliens are as real to you as you are to yourself. If you’ve got an extremely rigid and/or neurotic ego, there’s going to be a lot of alien seeming shit prowling around at all times. And if you encounter something new and recoil from it, all you’ve done is create a membrane of self/not-self to eventually dissolve and integrate.

   Which I suppose raises all kinds of questions about what the deal is with all these alien contact experiences and the like. My suspicion is that they the veiled attempts of the collective unconscious to pierce the walls of repression around the human sense of self.

 How many times have you heard about implants, rectal probes, fetal tissue manipulation, surgeries, kidnappings, and messianic dispensations of wisdom from our little grey buddies? If you accept that these creatures are at least quasi non physical, then it follows that they might be manifestations of some other trying to either reconcile itself to the human ego, or invade it and colonise it. For myself I find the parallels between alien contact and satanic ritual abuse a little too close for comfort, and recall the admonitions of rene guenon that the crumbling of our collective barrier to the subhuman realm leaves us exposed to all manner of predators and parasites.

  Or it may be that it’s a little more in line with Terrence’s experience. These creature bathe you in luv. They give you gifts. They teach you thier magick and welcome you as a friend. They litterally merge with your body.

 What both of these polarities have in common however is a complete loss of boundary control, which leads me to believe that the intensity of contact -type experiences is strongest either in the neurotic whose rigid defences suddenly collapse, or in the skilled adept who willingly drops his defences for a time.

   My experience of contacting an ‘other’ came under the influence of what i would later estimate as 10-15 dried grams of psilociibin mushrooms. In that state I was able to dissect everything I encountered into smaller and smaller units, until I finally got down to flickering quantum static. Pure noise in the basement of reality. At the time i never thought to go the other way and see what was wating at the top. That particular experience took me close enough to madness that i realised i was done with drugs.

 Meditation eventually gave me the opposite experience: a limitless transparent presence that transcended and included everything that exisited. A vast conscious emptyness of unformed potential. It wanted nothing because it was everything. It had no boundaries to dissolve so I was already one with it. It seemed and still seems to me that our purpose in existing was to accept and integrate every potential of the self, until we rejoin the godhead. Of course that could take a long time, and can a bit of a white-knuckle ride at times, hence the usefullness of banishing.

  All of which may be considered a proper preamble to our next installment wherein we unchain the primordial monsters in the qlippothic depths of reality and make them our bitches…

 

Alchemy for the Braindamaged XVII: Shoot the Curve

 

 part I part II part III part IV part V part VI partVII part VIII part IX part X part XI part XII part XIII part XIV part XV part XVI

Let’s talk about projection. Or more specifically, projecting trends into the future.

When I was talking about my health previously, I engaged in a practice of tracking certain habit trends both forward from a past where I started them and into the future whereby I could predict where they would lead.

This ability is a function of the frontal or conscious mind, as it deals with constructs of linear time. The subconscious mind cares nothing for time. To the subconscious mind only the present moment exists. Even when it draws experience from the past or future, that experience is considered to be in the present moment. It cannot distinguish between an image and the reality.

But anyway. It seems like this ability to project trends is growing in the human race, both as we develop greater skill in recognizing patterns and greater ability to abstract beyond the present moment and take in a bigger picture.

And here’s the funny thing: because we can use that ability to tap into wildly extrapolated future states, it provides the subconscious mind with an avenue for plausibly accessing experiences that we might otherwise not dare to do.

Technology not a sufficient cause for optimism? Extrapolate it forward twenty years and imagine yourself as a transhuman demigod exploring space. There’s a headrush for you, and because all you did was plug things that are really happening into your future conjuring algorithm, it must be true. your subconscious mind buys it.

Disenfranchised with the present? Track the rates of oil extraction, ecological destruction, and population growth into your curve generator and shudder in terror, or else gasp in ecstasy that the hated world that is, is on the way out.

Same function either way. You’re utilizing a hypnotic principle called time distortion. If you can trick a person into visualizing an outcome, then their subconscious mind treats it as it were already happening and they don’t resist it. All you did was provide the raw data and the timeframe. So if you carefully frame the data and the time frame you could make pretty much anyone accept pretty much anything.

With me so far? Now here’s the big whammy. If you’re really clever with this stuff you can generate what is known as a catastrophic transition. You project some process so far into it’s future that it launches off the graph that you used to measure it and into a completely unpredictable realm of behavior. The reason things like peak oil or the singularity pack such a punch is that they use mathematical trends to convince your brain that you’re going into a totally unpredictable transition state. You’ve been tricked into confounding your normal categories and definitions of things.

What’s interesting is, you’ve sucked yourself into the realm of chaotic behavior, and in that state of imprint vulnerability, someone else can come along and implant some new set of ideas. It’s the same principle as brainwashing. You render someone helpless, destroy their existing model of the world and in the totally dependent state of confusion, they will grab hold of whatever you give them.

In short, you take someone’s model, time distort it until it explodes and then help them reinterpret the aftermath. TA-DA!!! New reality. New self, even, perhaps.

Now keep in mind, this is not usually an deliberate act on the part of another person to brainwash you. But human beings are hypnosis machines and these distortions and trances are how we construct our world and communicate with each other. Words are just the delivery vehicle for sharing our personal trance states.

Now presuming you understand this, or even if you don’t, you can use this to your benefit. I’ve said elsewhere that your frontal mind places strong limitations on what are accessible or internally consistent experiences for you to have. No matter how much fun or pleasure or joy you want, your subconscious mind knows you almost always prefer to preserve your sense of self and inner continuity, so anything too strong to incorporate into your reality stays in the category of ‘other’ or at least displaced so far into some vague future that there’s no danger in the present moment to your safe state of misery and confusion. If you’re reasonably together or progressively goal oriented you’ll have designed and implemented a kind of incremental curve whereby you can, over time, access more happiness, more love or more creative flow and relaxation or whatever. What I’m going to show is how to reshape the curve, perhaps even jump it altogether into the realm of catastrophic transition. I trust by now you’ve got the tools to do something usefull with it.

We already did something like this before, but this version is even easier and more shocking to your current equilibrium state. The two of them actually work together quite well, I find.

What you do is, and this is easy, is to presume that nothing in yourself is ever going to change. Your conscious mind should have no trouble accepting this, because most of us either crave stasis or fear it so much that we can’t stop thinking about it.

Imagine that for the rest of your life you’re going to keep doing exactly what you’re doing right now, and do it in all the same ways with all the same beliefs. Imagine it in five or ten year increments. Same job, same partner, same limitations, same hobbies and habit patterns. Some of them will be good, some will be not so good. Where will you be? Your mind shouldn’t have any difficulty accepting this scenario, because it doesn’t require you to do anything different. You don’t need to be mindful, or conscious of your activities. You just need to stay on autopilot.

 How long will you live? How is your health? What sort of experiences have you had? Children, real estate, extended family? What sort of markers for personal growth occur simply by adding more time into the equation?

Now I’m going to presume that you haven’t hanged yourself in the shower just now, probably because of the few things in your life that involve growth, creativity and learning. If I addressed this to a crowd of ‘average’ people they would probably shrivel in despair. But if you’ve been around for some time, you almost certainly have some kind of regimen of meditation, banishing, metaprogramming work, or artistic expession in place. So play it out. No more grand upheavals or ecstatic changes. Just play out what you’re doing as routine right now, right this moment in your life, and give yourself the time to see where you end up. Plug 40 or 50 years into that, in five year increments, and what comes out the other end? Do you even get 40 or 50 years, or does your diet, lack of exercise and generally shit state of mind do you in long before that? Or conversely, does your ongoing regiment of health enhancing activities and positive state creation see you through into your second century of life?

Think about education. Are you content with everything you’ve learned? If so, you can look forward to seeing your cherished assumptions systematically torn apart by time and change until you end up confused, rigid and disillusioned. OR, you do some simple math: you could get the EQUIVALENT of a PhD in pretty much anything in an average of about five or six years. Even a modest 50 or 60 years of adult life is the equivalent of ten PhD’s if you continue learning, even informally. How much learning have you picked up so far, and how much do think you will pick up just out of habit in the years to come?

Now change the exercise a little bit, because no human being is truly static. You are not a simple equation. As time goes on you do not simply continue at the same rate. Whatever you invest in right now is what you are getting better and better at. If you invest in negativity, rigidity, fear and toxicity, you can look forward to an exponential swirl down into the recycling bin. Life is cheap and the biosphere is never short of human beings. If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.

BUT: If you invest in learning, growth, positivity, embracing healthy change and discipline, you will not only learn and grow more, but you will be learning and growing faster and faster as time goes by. The PhD equivalent you picked in 6 years will come in 4 years soon enough, then 3 years, then who knows? The joyous and creative states that come fleetingly now, will come sparingly soon enough, and reliably still later, and eventually the most outlandishly ecstatic states become your new baseline, until your current measurement system for understanding your life no longer is relevant. You’ve jumped the curve.

And these things are mixed. You have negative habits dragging you down and positive ones accelerating you towards your personal apotheosis. So as you shitcan the dead weight and install more useful behaviors, your accelerating curve becomes more and more like a vertical line shooting towards the great who-knows-what.

You see how this works? First you have habits that involve no change, then habits that involve predictable positive change, then habits that predictably accelerate positive change, then habits that predictably accelerate the acceleration of positive changes, until the whole concept of time and change and scales of positive experience cease to bound your consciousness. Your personal singularity. Because, all due respect to Ray Kurzweil but we don’t need some fucking computer to jump the curve for us. We’ve got the equipment right now.

Alchemy for the Braindamaged XVI: Sickly Expressed Deliverance

 

Apologies for the lag time in writings. Inevitably the act of living life starts to take away from talking about it. In a good way thankfully, and it’s confirmation that the process proceeds more or less as intended.

Which brings us around to our next topic. Namely, levels of intent. While those of us playing at this little game are engaged in more or less the same process of refining and manifesting intent, not all of us are engaging in it for the same reasons. And I’m not talking about having personally specific content. I’m talking a broad stroke sweeping difference in the quality of intent.

Now that all sounds rather vague and nebulous I know, but bear with me. I’ll be making three gross divisions here.

The first level of intent has to do with what can be thought of as therapy, ie; resolving and repairing incidences of dysfunction of whatever type. If you’re engaged in the alchemical process as a means of ‘fixing’ a ‘problem’ of some sort then that’s therapy. Poor self esteem, control issues, poverty of sensation, fear and insecurity. Whatever. The therapeutic level is primarily concerned with addressing perceived deficits in self or others.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, mind you, but that mindset tends to be self perpetuating. You’ll always be able to find a ‘problem’ if you look for one. You’ll always be able to find some way in which you are not functioning well with your surroundings. I wouldn’t recommend spending your whole life on it though.

The historical buddha gotama dealt with this in his life and teaching. His first students on becoming enlightened were hard core ascetics. Meditation masters who lived in the woods and were peers of gotama at that time. They grasped his message almost instantly.

But as time went on and he shared his ideas with others, more and more he found that he was being approached by people who wanted to be ‘fixed’ or who had massive personal problems that prevented them from walking the path as the buddha laid it out. Much of what we know today as buddhism is what gotama created to help these dysfunctional laypeople who weren’t sufficiently together to reach any higher.

What he stressed however is that, like I said, you can’t fix everything. Nor should you. Simply get your shit together to the point where your life is not a train wreck and move onto higher realms of experience and intent.

Which brings us to our next level which we may think of as the yogic level, or the artistic plane. Here you’re extending your existing capabilities. Learning to tap into higher and wider perceptions, more potent sources of energy, more profound and lasting sensations and experiences. It’s about developing skills and strength of mind. If you’re broken and dysfunctional you can’t really do any of this. If you try, your quest for expression will be turned into a flashing neon sign for your personal issues. This level shows up in all the spiritual or esoteric paths, but not always as an end in itself. Often it is a precursor, a way of preparing the mind for the leap into the next level.

That level, our final one, is transcendent or nondual. At a certain point your focus shifts to a kind of ultimate realization or release from boundaries, definitions, conceptual structures or imprinted limitations. Whereas the the artistic level is concerned with extending your reach in the conditioned realm, the transcendent impulse is to rise up and out of that whole context and assume a consciousness that pervades and includes all that exists.

A typical metaphor is to regard the universe as a projection or hologram of some sort. The transcendent attitude is to shift from regarding oneself as being a pattern created by light, to being the light itself. Or to move away from whishy washy phraseology, you shift from regarding yourself as being a phenomena, to regarding yourself as being the source or substance of that phenomena itself. If one identifies oneself as being of the same nature as infinite light, or an endless transparent awareness, is anything that arises or passes away in that light or awareness necessarily going to have any bearing on you at all? Probably not.

So you can no doubt see how a person mired in episodes of therapeutic drama is not going to get this. What is interesting though, is that transcend people quite often spend most of their time dealing with people who need therapy. People whose lives are hellish. The ‘wretched of the earth’ as it were. Probably because they know full well that unless these people unfuck themselves, they aren’t going to be good artists, let alone achieving transcendence.

Now, obviously, these are not all or nothing delineations. History is filled with ‘transcendent’ characters with all kinds of seemingly dysfunctional personality quirks, just as it is with artistic or yogicly accomplished types who exhibit the occasional burst of transcendant insight. And it hardly needs to be mentioned how the creative genius flirts with madness and incapacity as often as not.

The point worth making is, where is your emphasis? Where is your intent directed? Fixing shit that doesn’t work, creative expression, or departing from the scripted reality tunnel altogether?

Appearances can be deceiving mind you. Not that it’s especially helpful or profitable trying to go around pigeonholing other people. It’s primarily meant for oneself. But, for example it’s easy to mistake the altruist who finds the touch of god in helping others, and figure this person must be one of these suffering martyrs who bleeds for every blade of grass that goes under a lawnmower, and can’t establish any healthy boundaries on what can be done to help others at the expense of oneself. The difference is intent.

Conversely, the indian countryside is dotted with ‘saints’ who are so blissed out by their yogic mastery of certain states that they seemingly must have transcended the mundane plane. They neither move, speak nor eat. They need devotees to spoonfeed them. So are they supremely enlightened, or is it that they’re so dysfunctional that they’ve retreated into the false liberation of pushing your own bliss button until you don’t even register the outside world anymore? Is this really any different than a heroin addict who spends 17 hours a day on the nod staring at the tip of his shoe, and the rest trying to score? Probably only in the skill and efficacy this person has used to service his pathology.

So you can begin to see the tangled relationship these levels have. You might develop skills to address your therapy, transcendent insights to fuel your artistic expression, or mine your personal issues for material to work into your art.

For example, my recurring thing, and I’m quite sure that most other people have this from time to time, is that I want to get something ‘out of the way’ before I can fully explore my creative expressions. I need a better job, I need less stress, more time. Blah blah. But in truth, focusing on all this ‘problem’ stuff is just prolonging the situation. The mind is by far more complex and sophisticated than you give it credit for. If you decide where you want your conscious focus to be, then your subconscious will put everything else in the appropriate place relative to that. Things that need to be handled will be handled, and the rest will slip into insignificance.

So the ground zero question is simply this; where is it at for you? Not what you think you have to do. You don’t have to do anything. What do you WANT? Quit twisting yourself into knots to fullfill whatever you think needs to be done before you can feel good about yourself, get your groove on, or cash out of the game altogether. Just do it.

Our homework is, accordingly, fairly simple: Sort your list into three categories. The goals which service your personal problems, the goals which express your creative vision, and the goals which move you towards transcendant freedom.

Once you’ve done that, Reasses their order of importance based on what they do for you IN AND OF THEMSELVES. Do not put them in the order you think they need to be be in. Put in them in the order in which their importance warrants. If you want your problems to be of paramount significance, then great, do that. If you’d rather deepen your skill sets then do that. If you want the answer to the universal question, then obviously you better get on that shit, dawg. The bills will get paid, one way or another.

Alchemy for the Braindamaged XV: Hellworlds and Hyperworlds

 

. I had not originally planned to take much of a break over the holidays, but the alchemical process conspired to render me quite literally insane, and not particularly useful for writing pithy articles. If I’d been thinking about it, I might have appreciated the potential of madness for art, but alas I was too busy squeezing every last drop of adrenaline out of my tired aching kidneys. At one point my body chemistry was so toxic I was venting tar-like black substances out of various orifices. I’ll spare you the details. Not to worry though: I saved some and will be selling it on ebay shortly.

In any event, I’m not sure how much the practices I advocate here might have resulted in the trip into purgatory, as my own regimen is somewhat different and more complex than the homework assignments on AB. Be that as it may, It does tie in thematically to our latest topic, so we’ll be addressing my newfound streak of disorder in some fashion.

It’s hardly cutting edge to postulate the idea of the reality tunnel, or gloss, or filter, or metaprogram, or various other names for deliberately altering your subjective experience of the objective world. I’d find it hard to believe many of my readers wouldn’t be familiar with Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary and/or NLP. So lets take it as a given you can change your view of the world. Winner script, loser script, pessimist optimist yadda yadda.

Where most of these folk stop short is the idea that maybe your subjective reality tunnel might actually have objective effects. This veers dangerously close to what’s known as solipsism. Even the leading lights of the counterculture shy away from erasing the boundary between the observer and the observed world. The notion that our minds and the world around us might be engaged in some kind of organic interplay at the deepest level is a bit unsettling, even to those who make a career out of denouncing Descartes. Sadly the word ‘quantum’ has become as fuzzy and useless as the word ‘god’. And while certain lip services are rendered to the idea of the observer created universe, the only people who actually roll up their sleeves and engage with that notion by and large are the occultists. Most people simply indulge in a quest to find out what’s ‘really’ true about the world and act accordingly.

Part of the reason it’s a virtual taboo, is that, while you may happily accept the idea of viewing the world in a whole myriad of ways, at no point is the validity of the physical world out there under threat from the workings of your mind. In that sense we absolve ourselves of any responsibility for dumping our fearful ignorant and otherwise useless views of the world, because after all it’s all in my head and harms nobody.

If you were to incorporate some of our earlier considerations regarding the psychoplastic nature of reality, and ponder whether or not your delusions are rippling out to shape the physical world in collaboration with all the other delusional schmucks in your surroundings, the task of modifying and upgrading your reality tunnel takes on an altogether different order of importance.

You can found this idea on several levels of operation. You might say something as simple as decisions informed by a particular reality tunnel tend to reinforce that reality tunnel. You might say that your views affect the views of those around you. You might say your memes spread as well as they may to your surroundings. And if you’re prepared to integrate the psychoplastic ramifications of your intention on the quantum substratum of reality, perhaps through the phenomena of synchronicity, then you’ve got a whole gamut of vectors whereby your mind infects the surrounding world.

The reason I mention this is that in our own lives, our only real bulwark against our own potential for insanity is that beyond a certain point, the world seems not to agree with our weird ideas. If everyone were able to easily and consistently find confirmation for their strangest ideas, any notion of the consensus would unravel entirely in short order. Deep down we all secretly suspect that there really is a world ‘out there’ that we have no effect on, that acts on us. The flipside is that deep down we secretly, desperately need to believe that is true. We need to know that there is an ‘out there’ to anchor our ‘in here’.

And why? Well, the obvious reason is that most of us haven’t got a the slightest fucking idea how to handle our ‘in here’ so we rely on ‘out there’ to provide our reference points to keep us sane. Even if our ideas of what is objectively real is primarily regulated by long term habit and unexamined prejudices, it provides a kind of stabilizing rudder and momentum for our consciousness, which tends to keep us all moving in more or less the same direction. While you may have all manner of unusual notions and nonstandard views, chances are you still share more underlying assumptions with every other human on earth than not.

So we have this tension between the world as creation and the world as creator. In terms of what we’ve spoken of before it is the tension between the wand and the cup. Between being the author, or being a character in your story. You can debate which is true in some ultimate sense but what you can’t really debate is that you’re here. Hellworld or Hyperworld, here you are, so you are well advised to come to grips with it, and your place in it.

It’s important to keep in mind that whether your world is made by others or made by you, there’s always something at the heart of it that keeps you there. In a very real sense, the world view you have is a game, which you play in the pursuit of what lies at the resolution of the game. Everyone, including you, goes through this continuous process of deciding what you want, what it looks and feels like and what you have to do to get it. Some people define very clear games that have very clear end points, while others slap together endless open ended scenarios whereby they spend their whole lives chasing some nebulous notion of externalised happiness, usually to no avail.

Anyone who has even a superficial familiarity with Joseph Campbell knows he identified the universality of the heroic quest. It is a psychological mechanism that is inherent in all human beings. What varies is how we assemble that quest in ourselves and how we go about it. Certainly once we come to understand this as a psychological phenomenon with social consequences, we can come to understand that perhaps the true meaning of the heroic quest is what it does to our minds. The degree to which we externalise and project this process onto the world is the degree to which we have forgotten our own role in creating the scenario in the first place. Conversely the degree to which we internalize this process, the degree to which we understand the journey as being an inner unfolding, the closer we are to the truth. We make these games to capture the treasures that we think will enrich us, and we set these games in the worlds we believe they have to take place in.

So when you look at the world around you, the reality tunnel you habitually live in, or one you might like to live in, the question always has to be: what’s at the heart of it? Why are you there and what’s the payoff that keeps you there? What are the challenges you feel you need to face to navigate this world, even if it’s simply the challenge to embrace joy and relaxation?

In any event, the moment you truly understand that you’re trying to capture something that lies dormant in your own mind, the walls of the labyrinth become transparent, and the games you play with yourself are seen as they are.

Does this mean you shouldn’t play? Does this mean you shouldn’t delve into these realms of light and darkness? Hardly. And even if you simply decided not to, it wouldn’t be sufficient. It’s so much a part of you, it would take much of the rest of your life to fully detatch from that mindset.
What you can do, and do quickly, is take a conscious attitude to it. Right now you’re probably pursuing someone else’s idea of treasure at the heart of the labyrinth, and hence you’re playing by the rules they taught you in order to get it.

A very mundane example of this is the typical middle class careerperson. We might ask ourselves what the fuck this poor bastard thinks he’s doing in that cubicle 40 hours a week, but that’s the parameters of the game for him. At the end of that road is his hypothetical treasure, his sense of bliss. Will he ever get it? Probably not, because he entered that game with no clear idea of where it would lead, or where it might end. Chances are he learned his vague dreams from someone else who lived their whole life with the same vague dreams. Another lost soul in the Hellworld of bourgeoisie prosperity.

You want to break out of that shit? Quitting your job won’t do it. You’ll just be broke and homeless and still wondering how you’re going to get that brass ring one day. You’ve just fallen into a backroad of that particular Hellworld. You’ll probably wander around for awhile and eventually recreate the same scenario with a few modifications. If you’re really serious about getting out, then define what you want, ( which you’ve already done) , define what you have to do to get it( ditto), and what sort of view of life you need to make it happen. You make the rules, you set the standards, you decide if you succeed or fail. Not your parents, not your friends, not your significant other, your children, or society. You do. Your game. Your world. Your life. And if you’re going to be here, then you better make your reasons good ones.

The good news is the default reality tunnel of western society is quickly losing what little grounding it had in observable truth. Material prosperity and media saturated leisure are receding in the distance.

The bad news is that people are swiftly being herded into a number of alternatives. We have the Hellworlds of ‘war that won’t end in our lifetimes’ , ‘ peak oil’ , ‘clash of civilizations’ , ‘climate collapse’ or ‘the new world order’. People wander into these headspaces because for whatever reason they feel like this stuff represents some unavoidable modification to the game rules they’ve already laid out. Is it your secret desire to run free across the decimated wasteland of a collapsed western world? Maybe if your name is Ran Prieur. But chances are the only reason you’re there is because you convinced yourself that the carrot at the end of the stick just got yanked into the bowels of post apocalyptic nightmare and you can’t help but follow it. Until you see what’s leading you into these places you’ll never be free of them.

And the sad thing is, in light of our earlier considerations, these nightmares aren’t just in your head. They infect the world, they spread, they become more real. You plumb these dark dimensions and in doing so you solidify them and call them forth, and lay the groundwork for others to fall into them. And so very few of us have the discipline to back out of the trap, even if we could see it.

Thankfully we also have the Hyperworlds, the realms of unleashed progress, opportunity creativity and abundance. “2012”, “The Singularity”, ” Electronic Retribalisation”, “The Archaic Revival”, “S.M.I.L.E”. Each of these has their cheerleaders and evangelists. The main danger to these places is apathy. Of sliding into complacency and neglecting the need for challenge and growth. I do think the mature person chooses to live in a joyful, promising world of limitless opportunities, while always understanding the importance of walking the path of risk, change, and rebirth. But that’s just me perhaps.

Depending on your perspective, this is the ultimate act of magick. To create a world in your imagination and call it forth, to make it real. Certainly the alchemical quest is equally founded in the transformation of the self, but it’s partner will always be the story that makes the world. This is not just in your head. It can remain there, but only if you wish it. There are no limits, there is no ‘real world’ to break yourself against, in the end. ‘The real world’ is just another story somebody told you once. The world and yourself are of the same clay.

In some ways, this chapter is the pivot for everything I’ve written here so far. I can see now that my initial concern was to tell a story, to paint a picture of the dark dimension growing up around us all, to craft a world of real dangers, not just nebulous anxieties, and real potentials for adventure and growth, not just jolts to a jaded nervous system. A real quest for the world. With a toolbox for personal transformation at it’s heart.

In doing so I’ve come to understand very well that I’m not the only one doing this. Although I like to think I’m presenting people with better options than the reality priesthood, and their never-ending terrorscape might offer. At the heart of it, my methods are not much different, only more transparent. I pull the trick on you with my left and show you how it’s done with my right. And sometimes even I don’t see what I’m doing. Particularly to myself.

One thing I may have overlooked is the potential for genuine terror, for a real looming sense of loss and dislocation, of being ripped apart in the bowels of hell. That’s what it felt like for me, and while the temptation is there to treat it as a mistake and wonder how to avoid it in the future, the fact remains that it has helped purify me, driven out the flaws in my thinking, the weaknesses and childish attatchments. If you’ve ever faced the prospect of losing it all, you quickly come to understand what you really value.

In that sense the quest is a success, at least so far. I have survived the challenges I posed to myself, and gathered the prizes I’d left in wait. For the time being, I’m happy to stand on the crest of the hill and survey the landscape, before I descend into the valley of my own making again.

Homework: Assume for a moment that it’s all a sham. At any moment, you could choose to experience anything at any level of intensity you wish. It’s a lucid dream and you’re in control. Given that, why are you doing what you’re doing? You must have a good reason for all this struggle, conflict, confusion and searching, right? What is this all about? Maybe you’re doing what you feel like you have to do to make the experience real for you. To make it so you’ve earned your treasures.

You’re playing a game with yourself for everything on your list. Maybe some of them are easy and you’re working to overcome laziness. Maybe some of them are hard and you’re developing courage. Maybe some of them are mysterious and you’re cultivating understanding. Whatever the case, these things are the cornerstones of the world you’re really living in. The focuses you invest time and energy into reinforce that view of the world. So take some time to track it back. Follow the cord back out of the maze, and look at the picture you’ve painted for yourself.

Even if you could get all these things you want at the drop of a hat… would you? Would it be worth anything if you did? In many ways we validate our experiences in terms of our struggle to achieve it. But perhaps you’ve become addicted to struggle, and forgotten what it’s all supposed to be for. If you want to spend the rest of your life like Sisyphus and his rock, then by all means do so. In many ways life is about the journey, not the destination. There is fulfillment in process.

Just don’t forget you have options. When it’s not rewarding anymore you can walk away. Fuck that rock and fuck the hill. Try answering to yourself for a change and not the delusions swirling in your head. It may be a dream you can’t leave yet, but it’s still just a dream.

next time: stoned immaculate

Alchemy for the Braindamaged XIV:Design Science Revolution


I’m going to ask you to think about roles for a second. I’m sure you’ve probably recognized, or had it pointed to you, that while you think of yourself as a coherent entity, you in fact play a number of different roles, in a number of different contexts, and they may be radically different. Even contradictory.

You probably know this already, but you probably don’t think about it very much. Part of the reason is we tend to have one or two core roles that we think of as us, and the rest are deliberate ‘acting’, to fit into a certain situation.

What I mean is, when you’re with your parents, that probably is still ‘you’, just a you that maybe you don’t identify with very much anymore, but you slip into when you’re with your folks because you have so much practice with that role. It’s no more or less ‘real’ than the persona you assume with your significant other, or your best friends. They may all be very different, but you recognize them all as authentic or true reflections of you as a person, whereas in work or school or public places, there is more of an impetus to present a contrived or forced appearance that is so antithetical to your usual set of references that it’s impossible to lose your self-consciousness in those contexts. You always are aware of acting. You’re always holding an aspect of yourself outside the experience.

What you likely don’t pay much attention to is the mechanism whereby you switch from one role to another, or the mechanism whereby you lose yourself in certain roles and not others. Deep in all of us is the need for a kind of internal stability and consistency and this leads us to adopt certain behaviors as helpful to that goal, and reject others as contrary.

But if you were to participate in the theatre for instance, that creates a context where you can theoretically lose yourself in a role that has nothing whatsoever to do with your inner compass, and not feel threatened. You adopt another identity, sometimes profoundly, and then you drop it.

So then, isn’t it possible to transplant that focus, that ability to adopt different persona, and bring it into everyday life? To craft a new identity, and inhabit it fully?

And why exactly would we want to do that you might ask? Well, regardless of how different your various personal roles might be, they share certain common traits, and more importantly, a common range of experience. If you think of joy on a scale for instance, you may have a bunch of roles that go to 5 or 6 on the joy scale, and one that goes to ten occasionally, but none of them go past ten. That 1-10 scale itself is one of those core principles, one of those unifying modalities like we discussed last time, that your roles cluster around. You can push against that ceiling really hard, and you may well get to a new place from time to time, but all that does is establish a new ceiling to bang up against. That ceiling is a reference point for all your various personality roles.

So what happens if you want to totally step outside of that old scale. What if you don’t want to bust your ass to reach 11, you want 20 or 30 or 100 instead? How the hell do you do that, with no roles of your own that use a completely different range of experience?

The short answer is you steal them. Some cultures call this possession, in ritual magick this is known as invocation.

Now, ancient practitioners understood this concept, but to conceptualize entirely different orders of experience and understanding they felt the need to attribute them to autonomous complexes of energy and intentionality, ie; spirits, demons, gods whathaveyou. You needn’t bother with that unless you want to. It will probably help, but there can be side effects. More on that another time.

Am I saying that there are no such things as spirits and gods? Absolutely not. I know that there are for myself, but it makes no difference. The reason it makes no difference is that anything you think you can know or experience by assuming the role of some other entity is still going to come through your hardware. You can get the same charge theoretically from a made up deity as you can from one with a long history.

Why is that? Well in either case it depends entirely on how well you can ‘lose yourself’ on command in your new persona. Anthony Hopkins did such a good job losing himself in the role of Hannibal Lecter that he needed professional help to disentangle himself from it after the fact. Now maybe you don’t want to borrow the worldview of a fictional cannibalistic serial killer permanently, but the point is that you could. Or anything else for that matter.

The reason this works is that you already have a whole bunch of different scales for experience in your head, but you divide them into two types: ones that are possible for you, and ones that are not. In order to keep your internal continuity you sort experiences and sensations you have no persona structure to support into the category of ‘other’ and save them for fantasy, fiction and entertainment.

Deep down, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what 20, 30, 100 on the joy scale is, and how it feels, because you attribute that possibility to other people and other beings, but you diligently keep the door shut on stepping into that yourself, to keep your identity from falling into complete disorder.

How much harder then to tap into the ecstasy of a deity or archetype? You’ve got a whole lifetime of behaviors, beliefs and experiences saying that the ‘best’ you can do is a ten on the joe/jane blow scale and you fought damn hard to do that. To admit you can instantly step into ten thousand on the bliss scale requires you to let go of your whole invested life experience. To adopt a whole new view of the world requires letting go of your prior investment, at least temporarily, in what you think you already see and know about the world.

It’s tempting to think of ego or self as some kind of object or indwelling essence that needs to be dropped or exorcised, but it’s nothing of the sort. We go into tailspins of confusion and dismay when we think of what might happen if we lost our egos. So lets be clear about what it is, and then we can start making it work for us. First off, ego is not a thing. It is a process. It is the process of referencing one’s self through thoughts, speech and behavior. The problem with this is that you don’t have a self. So it would be better to say that ego is the whole complex of mental programs chasing it’s own tail in the effort to affirm the existence of a non existent thing, ie; this hypothetical ‘self’. All the problems arise from trying to make a dynamic process into a static object.

‘You’ are a plurality, a complex of interchangeable modules. The only thing holding you back is the ignorant assertion of a core identity. Treat that core identity as what it is: a stepping stone. A set of markers for your next reconstruction. It’ll always be there if you want to play with it again.

To the extent the self can be considered an object at all, it is a designed object, and you are the designer.

homework.

Pick some quality you want a bit more of. Compassion. Bliss. Inner peace. Understanding. Detatchment. Creativity. Make a short list of the five most profound experiences you’ve had of that type, and rate them on a scale. Alongside each one, note which role you were operating in at the time. Partner, pupil, child, debauched reprobate and so forth.

Now based your own scale decide on someone, real or fictional who has that quality at some new, arbitrarily high number. Compose a description of that person. Of their personality traits, habits, relationships, distinctive vocabulary, their attitudes and beliefs about things. All the ins and outs of the framework that lets them sustain the quality you’re after at the level you want. If you don’t know or aren’t sure, then make it up. You’re right either way.

Why is this necessary? Because attributes never exist in isolation. The ability to go to a hundred on the joy scale is supported by a bunch of other things in the same structure that constellate around a different kind of hypothetical self. Conversely, the ceiling you keep hitting in yourself is a byproduct of a bunch of other aspects of your internal structure that could take you years to root out consciously. This practice helps you sidestep all that arduous drudgery. That big empty space that we’re always trying to fill is like a kind of irritant that the pearl of identity forms around, and when you shift the perspective at the core of that, the whole structure shifts to accommodate it.

From this point on, it’s a matter of learning to let go of anxiety and just run with it. No, it’s not easy. If you’ve never explored drama or the theatre, you might want to consider it. Role playing games are a good compromise. The Augoeides makes good material for this because it’s an idealized or extrapolated image of self, so it’s easier to adopt what you feel is an already latent potential. Writing or talking to yourself in other voices is a useful halfway house too. For myself I treat it like skydiving: you can obsess about your chute as much as you want, but as soon as you’re out of the plane, you might as well relax, because there’s nothing to be done about it any more. In that way, putting yourself in no-exit, make or break situations can be very helpful. Just have a realistic sense of what you can do at a given stage.

At the end of the day you’ve got to decide if you want to be bound by the expectations of other people, and your neurotic habit patterns for the rest of your life or not. The truth is, nobody else really knows who you are inside and for the most part, nobody really cares. They all want to do what you’re about to do. Chances are they’re so wracked by anxiety and confusion that they have no idea whatsoever what’s going on with anyone else. Do them and yourself a favor and just get on with it. When you do, you’ll wonder why the hell you waited so long to get started.