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Cosmic Reality Check

2011/02/07

Cosmic Reality Check: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifth World
by Michael Monterey, February 6, 2011

Some of you probably recognized my earlier short lists of impending environmental ‘stressors’ as what they were – lists of very possible phenomena, some already accepted by scientists as being in progress [some reported in the article “Magnetic Polar Shifts Causing Massive Global Super-storms” by Terrence Aym, February 4, 2011; Salem-News.com]. If they happen in relatively quick succession (like within 100 years), that would wipe out what most of us call civilization. So, I offer the following update to my reports and explanations posted in earlier years of the new Millennium.

I only know of one kind of convincing prophecy about the end of this modern world-game, the most ancient kind.

You probably know that a super-colossal solar flare, bigger than the X-41 class flare that missed Earth back in the early days of this decade, would wipe out more than our satellite systems & power grids. That would cause nature no excess stress at all, it would relieve her. Unfortunately, FEMA and many expert scientists and engineers know that the empire can’t stand a 3 day total shut down, much less 3 weeks. Apparently, only the Mormons, Congress, the Pentagon, the radical Survivalist militias and God knows who else have more than a 2 week stockpile of surplus food and fuel. Anyway, giant solar flares and other cosmic events can and have triggered global catastrophes on our little planet many times before. When that happens as Earth’s magnetic field is breaking down in a pole shift process, it can and has fried much of what little is left after global microwave roasting of the environment.

Yet, the number of cyclic mega-disasters that might be about to coincide is rather large, and iany one of them could wipe us out very quickly. For example, any day we could all notice a sudden sensation of increasing brightness, then be vaporised in the expanding wave-front of a supernova that exploded 60 years ago (60 light years from here). We could also be slammed by an as yet undetected comet or giant chunks of interplanetary steel ore (asteroids) sometime in the next decade or so.

Who knows? So, being prepared for ANYTHING is the very best strategy.

What Terrence Aym’s article is talking about are symptoms of stresses being released in a complex system driven by forces that have been building for many millennia, some for millions of years, in whirling masses that act like immense flywheels, rotating dynamos of immeasurable momentum. One of the flywheels (Earth) is about 8,000 miles in diameter, spinning at about 1000 MPH, one is the size of the moon’s orbit, one the size of earth’s orbit around the sun, others are the size of the other planetary orbits, another is the size of the sun’s orbit around the ultra-massive black hole at the galactic center, one is about the size of this galaxy and, finally, larger ones exist beyond this galaxy. These cosmic flywheels are all very intimately linked, interrelated, interdependent and highly interactive. Indeed, as in quantum mechanics & fluid mechanics, they are all inseparably interdependent and mutually reactive effects of the multiple sub-fields of this indivisible field we call the universe. So, in thinking about interactive field effects of either basic energy events or macro-dynamics at the galactic scale, we can consider the notion of distance virtually meaningless & worse than useless.

So vast are the size & energetic momentum of all the interacting forces whirling around us, they are virtually inconceivable. Yet, the symptoms perceivable by us can and have been far more extreme than the recent 1500 X 2000 mile super-blizzard that swept across the USA. In 1862, California’s entire central valley was flooded from north of Sacramento southward by over 10 feet of rainfall in 40 days. That was probably a multi-century hiccup cycle compared to what’s coming around now. At the end of the last Ice Age, floods of Biblical proportions swept away chunks of glaciers studded with boulders the size of hills, depositing them in valleys (like the Willamette in Oregon), on out onto the seashore and beyond, all over the world. Equally huge events happen in the 5 year lock-in process as Ice Ages begin, preceded by extremely volatile weather patterns and intense super-storms that left sobering geological evidence of their destructive power. This is not news, the History & Discovery channels have shown documentaries with very realistic simulations of prehistoric disasters discovered by geologists, paleontologists, and paleobotanists, among others. What is new for modern Consumer Society is mounting evidence of accelerating destabilization of our solar system and Earth’s geomagnetic field and weather – now and in the near future – and our ability to respond intelligently or to keep aggravating the processes and consequences.

Here is a human scale example: I traveled through Navajo & Hopi country in late 2006, just after 2 tornadoes devastated large swaths of crops, homes, etc., following 2 seasons of unseasonal downpours that wiped out the corn crops. These are not just unseasonal or unusually closely sequenced ‘100 year’ weather events. Those events were the first such weather disasters in that region or, at least, the first within the last thousand years or so. Yet, this was predicted by the ancient Hopi (“Anasazi”) mystics – as signs of the end, the beginning of a new world cycle. Anthropologists have recorded similar cyclical ‘world histories’ and prophecies of over 30 ancient spiritual cultures. This lends a great deal of credit to the intuition about ancient spiritual cultures embedding their experiential histories in their myths.

Yes, most of us have heard of many freakish, out of season weather disasters, but they’re weird only to us, not to nature or the galaxy. Not only do the cycles of changes relate to the orbital and interactive forces of interstellar relations, but the galaxy’s spiral arms feature vast clouds of high energy plasma, gas & dust as well as super-colossal currents & rivers of super-high energy radiation, streaming out of the galactic core. As we now know, the galactic core is seething with the energies released as thousands of giant stars are ripped apart at the brink of a super-colossal ‘black hole’ that emits proportionally high-energy x-rays, gamma rays, etc. The galaxy’s stars move into, through & out of its spiraling clouds & radially meandering rivers of lethal energy on an irregular basis. All that energy instantly effects all the stellar sub-fields in the galaxy, and more so the planets. For us the effects seem to take a very long time to happen, but our modern calendars and notions about regular cycles of time are delusional. The irregularities and complex multiple cycles and gigantic cosmic forces at play mean that scientists really have no idea how rapidly we may suffer far more extreme effects. So, it is wise to drop the notion that we may be witnessing only relatively managable multi-centennial events.

What has developed over the last 50 years (that I’ve watched, seen, studied and talked about for more than the last 10 years or so) has never happened before. The cosmic cycles impacting Earth produce similar patterns, but not reruns. Climaxes of extreme multi-cycle coincidences always produce intensely and massively destructive symptoms. Science has revealed vast quantities of evidence of ferocious global catastrophes that caused hellish conditions that lasted for up to a million years or more.

The symptoms that geologists, geophysicists, astrophysicists, climatologists and ecologists have been reporting recently are caused by progressive interactions and forces of multiple cycles that range from about 26 thousand to 40 and 100 thousand years, on up to about 26 million, 30 million, 70 million and more than 200 million years. The masses, energies, and momentum of such large, highly charged cosmic subfields in motion are incalculably huge. Remember, the effects of these cosmic cycles, in turn, are irregularly affected by incalculably powerful interactions with interstellar clouds of charged particles, incoming & outgoing streams of radiant cosmic rays, stellar orbital dynamics & interactions, plus the unique reactions caused in and by ‘our’ heliosphere and planetary energy fields.

Besides the effects on Earth’s weather, the Sun is being strongly effected and destabilized. The heliosphere is the sun’s energetic atmosphere, an electromagnetic force field surrounding the solar system. That shields our solar system from ultra-high energy intra-galactic and cosmic radiation, somewhat like Earth’s electromagnetic field has protected us from excess cosmic rays and high energy solar radiation. The shielding and protection are not completely effective. The heliosphere changed radically over the last 50 years or so, becoming a less effective radiation shield. The same has happened to Earth’s electromagnetic (“EM”) field as the EM fields of the outer planets have nearly doubled. As massive as they are, earth’s magnetic iron double-core generates a complex field many times stronger than its larger sister fields farther out in the heliosphere. Yet, because of the solar system’s geometry and our proximity to the Sun, the giant planets’ fields have grown stronger, more energetic, much more and more rapidly than Earth’s.

So what? The sun’s solar wind and its radiative energy output have fallen by about 25% over the last 50 years or so, while the planetary EM fields of the gas giants have grown. Geologists and geophysicists have long known that earth lost about half its EM field strength in the last 2000 years, because of the energetic braking effect of the moon. Something similar seems to be happening to the Sun. More importantly for us, all the above relations and effects are undergoing constant, relatively volatile flux and proportionally radical change.

Over the last 10 years or so, American astrophysicists have been confirming the findings of Russian scientists who discovered that the whole heliosphere is warming, not just the Earth. We also found that pioneering Russian scientists were right about the Sun being much more delicately balanced, unstable and interdependently interactive with Earth and the other planets. It was long known that the Sun’s axis and center of gravity/energy is not the same as the heliosphere’s center of gravity/energy. Now they know that the Sun’s somewhat viscous, quasi-gelatinous outer layers – a bit like very thick, boiling pudding – are subject to large-scale quasi-tidal waves. The planets drag the center of the heliosphere around the solar axis in a semi-irregular, eccentric orbit that disturbs and constantly stirs the sun’s boiling pot of energy. That stirring of Sun’s inner field affects the pattern of Sunspots, solar storms, flares and CMEs (coronal mass ejections). That process is changing radically as ultra-high energy galactic energies slam into the heliosphere and the higher energies of the planets put drag on the sun’s rotational momentum, braking its spin –- like the moon slows the earth’s rotational velocity.

The speed of rotation determines the strength of the EM field generated by a conductor spinning in a magnetic field. That means that the sun’s EM radiation shield has lost about 25% of its deflective power. It also means that the sun is now more strongly affected by galactic and interstellar energies and EM forces from the planets, especially Earth. That doesn’t mean that Earth’s EM radiation shield is getting strong enough to deflect a higher cosmic energy influx or the more volatile solar outbursts. To the contrary, since Earth’s core is so responsive to the sun’s mammoth EM field and vice versa, the enemy of our EM shield is volatility and instability. As the Sun’s magnetic field weakens, it directly affects Earth’s field and its dual-core generator, probably offsetting any gain from additional galactic energy.

As the unique, increasingly volatile, mashup of forces, factors, contributing circumstances and aggravating effects progress, the consequences for us Earthlings will seem proportionally severe. Increasingly, Earth’s EM field, its double core and its physical substance are being strained, distorted and destabilized. That’s not ‘New Age’ hippy fantasy or speculation, that’s a result of basic mechanics (operating at all levels at once).

How can we be sure of the above happening in the near future? Well, as I pointed out in early 2005, as a spinning top or gyroscope slows down its axial precession increases and, as the rate of spin decreases, its wobble increases. The slower the spin, the more erratic and extreme the wobble until, inevitably the top or gyroscope falls over. Now, imagine the same thing happening to the Sun’s magnetic field. Remember though, our Sun doesn’t have a physical axis or a lower tip on a solid, stable table. The Sun is more like a greased ball of thick Jello, and so is Earth’s ‘fluid’ outer core. This cosmic couple are locked in a dizzying whirling dance, getting wilder, with more interceding forces influencing the already precarious balance. If you contemplate the reality and the true nature of the dance with an open mind, you’ll quickly begin to appreciate the true scope and complexity of the problem we’re facing. Neither Sun nor Earth are greased marbles but Earth’s spin, wobble, axial angle, tectonic and seismic reactions are susceptible to EM forces, torque and radical change, regardless of the limitations of known data and theory. As the dance of the planets and Sun intensifies and becomes more erratic, the processes and rates of change change.

Can scientists calculate and simulate all the radically changing cosmic weather patterns in our neighborhood of the galaxy? Well, with mind-boggling super-computers performing quadrillions of operations per second, we barely manage to simulate and predict weather here on Earth. We still lack definitive understanding of the Sun’s weather and inner workings, much less the galaxy’s. Now, with 7 billion of us here, we are not too puny to have an effect.

Indeed, it looks like our artificially generated EM output accelerated and aggravated the cosmic processes already in progress. The geomagnetic South Atlantic Anomaly (“SAA”) and increasingly rapid relocation of Earth’s polar EM axis and changing precessional ‘wobble’ seem to mirror our artificial EM field effects at a similar latitudinal distance north of the equator. The SAA is a recurrent series of holes and long gashes in our EM field (our radiation shield), letting in super-high energy radiation. These effects usually mean that the EM field is breaking down as it has in previous major magnetic shift cycles and pole reversals. That is known from geological studies of magnetization of ancient rocks and strata. The SAA may relate to a huge looping effect and a greater effect on the Sun. Magnetic portals, snaky magnetic vortexes like long hoses (transferring high energy solar material into our upper atmosphere), have been found connecting the Sun and Earth. The energy and radioactive material transferred have been building up more rapidly.

Over the last several decades, astronomer’s have confirmed a growing number of large solar flares and CMEs (coronal mass ejections) aimed directly at earth. There is now a particular place on the Sun where an intermittent Sunspot and Earthward flowing flares develop. When all this is considered together with all the other radical changes in our local subfield, the picture comes into much clearer focus.

What all this means for you or me can be reduced to a question of values. What we value will determine how we define and plan for Damage Control or transcendence of embodiment. So, to make it simpler, what kind of quality of life do you want in what kind of world on what kind of planet? Good answers require serious consideration of the whole complex of facts, opportunities, potentials and odds. How willing we are to transcend our ‘normal’ comfort zone for the sake of preparation for the worst, may determine how well we manage to meet the rapidly emerging, intensifying challenges to survival. Whatever you decide will offer no guarantee of smooth transition to a safe, high-tech future. Regardless of what happens, whether we get global super-heating after a transitional Fire & Ice Scenario or the next Ice Age (whenever), the super-rich elite and their political puppets seem uninterested in preparing us for any future.

For all you over-confident super-skeptics out there. I suggest reading a few classics of real science and prescient vision, especially Climate and the Affairs of Men by Browning & Winkless, and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Dr. Jared Diamond. Other sources are linked and listed in Aym’s article and the related sources referenced, but the two books just mentioned above will highlight the essentials and detail the basics given here. Since Diamond’s book was published it seems ever more unlikely that modern Consumer Society will choose to succeed soon enough to survive. But there may be an alternative to terminal consumption. Towns, cities, counties, states or even whole nations that prepare for it, may weather the end of this modern World-Game and develop a better one. However, there may be as little as 18 months left to prepare for massive chaos, food riots, etc…

What is a realistic worst case weather scenario for the transition from modern Consumer Society to the new world of the future?

There may not be a single best guess, but cosmic momentum seems to be fostering a new Ice Age. With a major pole shift – with continental wild fires and thousands of cubic miles of sea-water boiling into the sky – the Five Year Lock-in phase will be violent, cold, dark, very wet and terrible beyond imagining.

It is absurd to assume that gigantically powerful causes will have no proportional effect on our relatively tiny little ball and its eggshell thin skin of living energy and air. There is no good reason to doubt the immensity and severity of the most likely impacts on our fleeting, flimsy little illusions of normalcy, control and power.

Extra heat of the tropical zone could feed freezing rain and constant snowfall in the temperate and polar zones. Smokier global cloud-cover would aggravate and accelerate the process. As in the previous Ice Age, snowpack in the USA would build up rapidly from the lower midwest northward, from coast to coast. Europe and the Mediterranean region may be frozen, along with much of the Middle East and Asia. If the governments of this World-Game fail to start preparing in subtropical and tropical areas, their could be a chaotic, messy and violent rush of hundreds of millions or billions of survivors into those regions. Many such refugees might die of starvation, disease, and violence in the years of dark, super-stormy middle lattitudes, with too little sunlight for crops. Supplies, services, facilities and natural resources will be insufficient to support a sudden tropical population explosion of a billion unprepared, ill-equipped, hungry refugees.

In the worst case or nearly worst case, guys addicted to real-life horror shows, violent, semi-primitive survival in constant danger, conflict, struggle and-or combat may be happy as pigs in poop for awhile. By 2018, the Ice Age could be on for another 80,000 years or so, and the few human survivors left in the tropics would probably be suffering atrocious PTSD in the storm ravaged landscape, possibly banding together against the worst gangs, human predators and petty tyrants. For anyone else, the transcendental option may be infinitely more enjoyable or infinitely less horrific, at least.

How could the world come down to such extreme choices so suddenly? It was no more sudden than the atrocious karmas of the last 5,000 years. The vast majority of us have simply ignored the realities, warnings and great alternatives offered over the last 40 years or so. Otherwise,we might be prepared already.

For those of you too young or inexperienced to understand the cause and contributing factors, the simplest explanation is implied in one of Jim Bell’s sayings about politics as usual, “An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.”

It might be more accurate to say that most of us are addicted to acting as if a gram of illusion is worth more than a kilo of reality. We typically want to avoid or ignore scary news, especially about what we want or enjoy or believe in, which is what keeps con artists and politicians in business. Such sayings resonate with the warnings of the great Sages of ancient Asia, who did their best to help us get real.

Naturally, the transition to the new world of the future (whatever it’s like) may take another 50 years or more. What the quality of life for you or anyone else will be like will be physically impacted by more extreme weather and climate change, but your attitude, values and choices for responding to ‘outer’ conditions will have the most impact on the quality of life for you and those around you. That truth is as ancient as humanity, karma, action-reaction, cause and effect determined how ‘we’ came to this state of affairs. Who knows, if a majority of us decide to choose the way of love, giving, sharing, caring and creative cooperation with ecospheric awareness of the biosphere, then maybe we will enjoy a best case scenario beyond imagining. If a substantial majority don’t come to such a positive choice, then the consequences will be much worse than any of the previous collapses of empires and whole civilizations.

For the ultimate options, the books, resources and teachers listed below may help.

May you live long and prosper, here and hereafter.

Reference & Resource Links:

Just in case, these references and resources will help you prepare for the worst or the best.

Book: Climate and the Affairs of Men > http://www.amazon.com/Climate-Affairs-Men-Nels-Winkless/dp/0061295507

Book: Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed > http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_48?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=collapse+how+societies+choose+to+fail+or+succeed&sprefix=collapse+how+societies+choose+to+fail+or+succeed

Book: Book of the Hopi > http://www.amazon.com/Book-Hopi-Frank-Waters/dp/0140045279/ref=pd_sim_b_1

Book: The Return of Pahana > http://www.amazon.com/Return-Pahana-Hopi-Myth/dp/0939680734

Books & Green Papers: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_48?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=collapse+how+societies+choose+to+fail+or+succeed&sprefix=collapse+how+societies+choose+to+fail+or+succeed

Book: Destructive Emotions > http://www.amazon.com/Destructive-Emotions-Scientific-Dialogue-Dalai/dp/0553381059

Website: Soka Gakkai International, http://www.sgi-usa.org

Article reference links:
2005 – Movement of North Magnetic Pole is accelerating:
[http://www.physorg.com/news8917.html]
2008 – Earth’s Core, Magnetic Field Changing Fast, Study Says
[http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080630-earth-core.html]
2008 – Magnetic Portals Connect Earth to Sun
[http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/30oct_ftes/]
2008 Magnetic-Shield Cracks Found, Big Solar Storms Expected
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/12/081217-solar-breaches.html
2009 – North Magnetic Pole Moving Due to Core Flux
[http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091224-north-pole-magnetic-russia-earth-core.html]
2009 – The earth’s climate is significantly affected by the planet’s magnetic field:
[http://www.terradaily.com/reports/The_earths_magnetic_field_impacts_climate_Danish_study_999.html]
Jan 2011 – British Geological Survey *Possible Pole Shift Occurring* South Atlantic Anomaly is Growing:
[http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/highlights/southAtlantic2010.html]
2009 – A strong, highly-tilted interstellar magnetic field near the Solar System:
[http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7276/full/nature08567.html]
2009 – The solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud that physics says should not exist:
[http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/23dec_voyager/]

Copyright (c)2011 Michael Monterey

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Trusting Heart’s Truth, s.1

2010/06/05

Trusting Heart’s Truth – Xin Xin Ming – stanza 1

(after Sëng Sân, Third Patriarch of Chan)

Dao, the great Way, is perfectly easy
if you avoid bias, picking and judging
Without illusions of love, hate, or craving
enjoy wholeness, purity, clarity

©1995, 2010 Michael Lucas Monterey

NOTE: Stay tuned for the next of the 36 amazing stanzas of this first classic Sutra of Chinese “Zen” (Chan), or contact me about a subscription or a full print on beautiful paper. Thanks

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Intro: On The Way

2010/05/24

On The Way

by Michael Lucas Monterey

An unpublished draft manuscript, for review and comment only.
Without written permission of the author, all other uses are forbidden by law.

On the Way
Part I, Living Wisdom’s Greatness
On Lao Zjï’s Dao Dë Jing
Part II, Trusting Heart’s Truth
On Sëng San’s Xin Xin Ming
Part III, Ancient Wisdom of China
Classic Sayings & Proverbs

©1995, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2010 Michael Lucas Monterey

All Rights Reserved.

Michael Lucas Monterey, author, editor
e-mail: michael.monterey@gmail.com

On The Way

Introduction

Why did I do it? Out of respect and gratitude for what the compassionate wisdom of the ancient masters did for me.

I started this project while living at Ojito Farm, in the Truchas River valley, above the Rio Grande Gorge between Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and while building an ecologically oriented and spiritually inspired greeting card company with my former wife and creative partner. I also chopped wood, carried water, helped with putting in a vineyard and the building of a small adobe cabin with our brilliant landlord. He bought the farm from the last member of the hippy commune it once supported from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. It was winter, the work was not too demanding and not always possible, and the main adobe had a wonderful library. Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) had been more than a favorite of mine since 1967, having saved my mind if not my life more than any other thing I can think of, and there were several translations there. Over the years, I had started noticing that all the best translations had some major differences, some contradicting the others more and some less. Reading about the history of the translation of Lao Zi’s (Lao Tzu) tiny but potent classic, started me wondering about his original intent more than ever.

As I continued living my alternately simple, timeless, rustic and complex, productive, modern life and delving more deeply into the depths, wonders and mysteries of Dao De Jing, I began to think more often about the differences, contradictions, and implications of the various translations and the wording chosen by the translators. It soon became apparent that there were problems involving more than outmoded writing styles. The more I studied and discovered, the more I began getting inspirations for revising certain words and phrasings, then urges to start writing them down.

Initially, this was somewhat daunting and unsettling. It must be pretty rare for a reverent devotee to get giddily enthusiastic about revising his master’s Bible and, as much as anything else, Dao De Jing was my Bible at the time. Yet, the urges and inspirations kept coming, along with more interest in the investigation and more insights. At some point, it dawned on me that I was being blessed with some relatively important new views of Lao Zi’s meaning and implications. I was also developing a broader sense of the reasons for the limitations and contradictions and realizing that there were real weaknesses in the previous translations into English. The more I realized, the more it encouraged and impelled me to start working on a new interpretation of Dao De Jing.

As the process evolved, despite my lack of perfect, constant mastery of my life, it began reawakening the semi-dormant poetic skills of my youth, developed to craft meaningful but unpublished pop songs and, mostly, therapeutic self-expression. Lao Zi’s wisdom and my increasingly strong will to absorb, understand, and express it also furthered the awakening of my aspiration to live it, constantly. That process took much longer than the development of my understanding of the words and phrasing and motives of the ancient translators and scribes. In fact, since it is actually the evolution of living consciousness, which is infinite, the process is never ending.

My interpretation of Dao De Jing’s text took about 18 years of intermittent work and personal evolution. The text was virtually complete by the end of the year 2000, but not my introduction. This introduction had to wait for my readiness and the time. Now, the time seems ripe enough.

So, please forgive me if the following commentary seems to academic. Balancing the need for background information and context with the modern unpopularity of reading and long, arduous, extremely deep thinking about highly complex, intensley charged subjects is not easy, especially when the subject is as vast and complex as Chinese history, complicated by the vast difference between the languages and mindsets. If it were only the difference between the modern Chinese mindset and ours, that would be hard enough. This rickety little bridge spans a gulf of thousands of years and vast inner distances in as few pages as possible. If it helps you on the way to your destination, I trust you to pardon its imperfections as I pardoned those of the inspired translations that enhanced my journey so much.

My intent was and is to make it easier for you to cultivate an enlightened, enlightening life, and easier to avoid the trauma, hardships, extra karma and consequences I created, suffered, and overcame.

This interpretation of Dao De Jing’s content, like the original, is intentionally iconoclastic, non-academic, non-sexist and optimized for modern readers. Leading experts agree that the original Dao De Jing was not written in separate verses and that the ancient copies were scrambled. For greater readability and impact, my approach provides a unique re-arrangement of Dao De Jing’s content. Amazing illustrations by world-class photographers provide an unusually broad perspective on Dao De Jing’s vast legacy of wisdom, transcending the typical limits of language and cultural bias. This mini-trilogy’s rich cultural context is reinforced by Seng Tsan’s magnificent Xin Xin Ming, the first Chan (“Zen”) Sutra and a rare collection of ancient China’s great wisdom teachings and famous sayings. My informative commentary helps, but no commentary can compete with the ancient classics and proverbs of the Chinese themselves.

This new perspective on China’s root wisdom, with accompanying background works and brilliant photography, shows that Dao De Jing was always a result of contemporary interpretation and application. Dao De Jing is an evolutionary record of a living heritage, as challenging and refreshing 2600 years ago as it is today.

Living Wisdom’s Greatness, Trusting Heart’s Truth, and Ancient Wisdom of China are modern English restatements of Dao Dë Jing(1) by Lao Zï, Xin Xin Ming(2) by Sëng Tsan(3), and a rare collection of China’s ancient folk wisdom and sayings of great Sages. The three works issued together here make the best commentaries for each other. Still the more context we integrate, the more meaning we find in such deep expressions of wisdom.

On The Way is a record of the values, concerns, wisdom and compassion that inspired great Sages and common folk for millennia before there was writing. Trusting Heart’s Truth serves as a powerful lens, focusing on the spiritual heart of Dao Dë Jing’s teachings. Living Wisdom’s Greatness offers an expansive view of Xin Xin Ming’s potential for application in daily life, for “being in the world, but not of it.” Dao Dë Jing and Xin Xin Ming are evolutionary results of China’s vast cultural heritage. The classic sayings and proverbs in Ancient Wisdom of China are a small portion of Asia’s ancient treasury of folk wisdom and practical spirituality, giving rise to the many classics that followed.

We can all benefit from greater understanding and appreciation of China’s rich heritage, its long experience with civilization, and its generally unrecognized contributions to our quality of life. The two brief commentaries that follow provide more detailed background information, supporting a deeper reading of the multi-layered meanings of Dao Dë Jing and Xin Xin Ming.

In 1996, through good fortune and synchronicity, I was given a rare, antique book that contained a collection of China’s famous old sayings. Some were known to be ancient by the people who treasured them thousands of years ago. Why are they so familiar and compelling?

Archeologists recently proved that the history of the “Silk Road” goes back far beyond 5000 years, and far beyond the territories of ancient Asia and the Middle East, verifying the great antiquity of its originally global wisdom tradition. China’s lovers of wisdom handed on the proverbs and wisdom teachings of the earliest era of our common cultural evolution. Some of the proverbs and sayings included in the accompanying selection may be of less than millennial vintage, but all offer more expansive glimpses of the ancient worlds of China’s great Sages. These gems of wisdom clearly reflect China’s multi-millennial experience with urban civilization and its ‘modern’ ways and means, its problems, and the realities of Earth and Heaven. To make the proverbs and sayings more readable, most were edited and revised, updating the antique style of their Victorian English translators.

Why the large large number of translations of the ancient classics of China? Both ancient and modern dialects of Chinese are intentionally ambiguous, their semantics flexible, the syntax very lean. The best use of Chinese is not meant to be precisely specific, not exactly definitive. Chinese is a language of pictographic ideograms. An impressionistic word painting or an abstract expressionist tone poem in Chinese would be far more meaningful than anyone can write in English with the same number of words. This does not mean Chinese is inferior for expressing more technical issues. It can do it with fewer words. It does mean that hearers, readers and interpreters of Chinese must generate or acquire more knowledge or wisdom to get the most meaning from a work of great depth and vast scope.

Chinese words can have up to five possible intonations, or voicings, and their definitions may also be determined by contextual reference. Dealing with lost or “dead” dialects of the ancients requires many courageous guesses. Using alphabetic Western reductions of phonetic Chinese is complicated and difficult, even for dedicated scholars of the different forms of China’s languages.

For example, For a long time the name the Chinese now spell with Zi in western letters, was formerly spelled Tse or Tsu or Tzu. My spelling, Zjï, contains a “j” so that English speaking readers realize that “Zi” is not pronounced by the Chinese as we would. Nor do they typically pronounced it with a “t” sound of any kind. Zi has a vowel sound akin to both short “i” and “e” but it is not quite the same as either. There are various possible inflections, intonations that affect the meanings, but I won’t burden you with all that. I use an umlat over the ï to remind English speakers that the Chinese vowel is not like ours. Virtually all mainland Chinese words with Romanized spellings containing an “e” are voiced with what English speakers hear as a short “u” [as in “uh”]. Therefore, I spell Sëng and Dë with ë instead of e. The Taiwanese Chinese take a somewhat different approach to Anglification, but the odds clearly favor mainland-style Romanization of spellings.

But all that is less trouble for translators than staying true to the meaning. English readers interested in Dao Dë Jing’s original meaning more than the spellings, may find the background information in the following commentaries more helpful.

The “Back Story” of a Millennial Investigation

Living Wisdom’s Greatness, Reflections of Dao Dë Jing, is an intuitive American interpretation of the core wisdom of Chinese culture and spirituality. Dao Dë Jing, composed by the legendary Lao Zjï about 2600 years ago, is the most translated book in the world (other than the Bible). There may now be over 120 versions in English. Doubt about the necessity or value of yet another version is understandable.

The legendary status of Dao Dë Jing and Lao Zjï, its author, are only part of the reason for this new interpretation. Unlike the writing of the ancient Aryans, Jews, and Arabs, Chinese was and still is a pictographic language. Dao Dë Jing’s 5000 ideograms are each, like a picture, worth many English words. Dao Dë Jing paints a virtually boundless picture of the complex realms of human culture, social relations, experience and spirituality, leaving ample room for fresh interpretations.

Which words are best for describing an infinitely vast Big Picture view of life? Clearly, no single description works best for all modern minds.

Still, giving Lao Zjï a contemporary voice for the ears of a modern audience seems a worthy cause. Lao Zjï and his successors were speaking and writing in the ordinary mode of their time and place, not in a transliteration of some ancient, foreign language. Technically precise, “literal” lingusitic updating is far from the most important cause for such a task. So, the versions of Dao Dë Jing by Gia Fu Fëng and Jane English, Stephen Mitchell, Man-ho Kwok, Witter Bynner and other excellent interpretors are superior, not inferior to “translations” by academic scholars.

Many attempts at translating Dao Dë Jing by scholarly experts lack esthetic and spiritual power, the spontaneous quality, iconoclastic character, and logical integrity that surely flowed from the mind of the original’s author. Even the best of previous versions have relied somewhat on one or more traditional approaches to filling in the “blanks” left by the ravages of history and the austere sparsity of the language used by the author or early “translators” and scribes. Anyone familiar with great interpretations of the sayings and teachings of Chuang Tzu, Meng Tzu (Mencius), Sëng San, Hui Nëng, Lin Ji (Rinzai), Hakuin or even Buddha Shakyamuni himself will sense the character and “chi” (energy, power, life force) evident in their Way. Although I freely interpreted and intuited much of the content, in places revising or using new metaphors, I tried to stay as close as possible to the character and spirit of the original. As an artist and devoted Buddhist with a talent for pattern recognition and critical thinking honed over decades of experience in architecture and science, plus a deep sense of affinity for Lao Zjï, it became impossible to ignore the traditional weak spots, the less lively, inauthentically academic passages, and unnecessarily archaic phrasings and metaphors. Many unfortunate limitations imposed by language in general, and English in particular, were aggravated by the scarcity of ancient source material.

Controversies over the nature and validity of Lao Zjï’s view, his enlightenment, and his legacy provided a major incentive for reslolution and this book. As my work and maturity progressed, it became ever more apparent that questioning or comparing levels of enlightenment — of Lao Zjï and Buddha, or whoever — is misleading and all too common. In both Christ and enlightenment there is no East or West, nor better or worse. The Way is The Way, the beginningless source of sources, and there is no way to fake it, nationalize it, monopolize it, or confine it to a single ideology or theology.

Eventually, it was as if Dao De Jing or Lao Zjï himself called to me ever more insistently for a new telling, for a new and different ‘hearing’ of the original’s many meanings and vast implications.

Truly translating Dao Dë Jing is impossible because the original is missing. Effective interpretation is complicated by that fact. Any existing version of Dao Dë Jing is an interpretation based on assumption, opinion, reasoning, intuition and, ideally, the insights and wisdom of Sages.

The two oldest existing copies were created hundreds of years after the original. Unfortunately, the ancient copies are only about 40% to 60% intact and legible.

To homogenize and standardize ancient China’s many languages and dialects, the first Chin emperor ordered the burning of all pre-existing texts. So, for about 2200 years, perfectly reliable translations of Lao Zjï’s original classic have been unavailable.

Some scholars think that the original Dao Dë Jing was not divided into distinct verses. Most experts agree that what most of us now think of as the first half used to be second. Several leading experts think that the order of about half the verses was scrambled, possibly caused by a fire. Any such modifications would radically alter the impact, readabilty, translatability and import of any book. A sense of the possible impact of the overall structure is revealed by comparing this version of Dao Dë Jing with any other version’s arrangement of the content.

The diversity, evolution, and mutation of ancient China’s lost dialects are problems as unsolvable as the absence of the original. Horrific wars, socioeconomic upheavals, and successive tyrannies posed many other challenges to the Sages, translators and scribes following Lao Zjï. China’s cycles of violent social decay, predicted by Lao Zjï, caused progressively more problems for later interpreters and teachers. It would be foolish to assume that ruthlessly corrupt, egomaniacal Kings would not influence the translation and editing of Dao Dë Jing. So, that factor has to be given commensurate weight, which is a difficult judgement call after so many centuries.

Another problem typically confusing for modern Westerners is the use of Chinese in literature. English is definitive, but Chinese is suggestive. What you can see — according to your own intuitive and intellectual capacity — is what you will get. Chinese literary works, especially those involving deep spiritual issues, require as much of the reader as of the writer. The more we invest in understanding the author and the psychosocial context of a work, the more we get out of it, especially in the case of ancient spiritual classics.

We can safely assume that Lao Zjï and his successors were able to use their extinct dialects to the greatest advantage, choosing words that most effectively served their truth and compassionate intent. They would also use words and phrasing to evoke and provoke more engagement in a student, permitting more inspiration, inciting discovery and greater capacity for creative response.

My task of interpreting Lao Zjï’s missing original was eased by the greater available knowledge of China’s ancient cultures and languages, made possible by revisionist anthropology, superior archeology, new advances in linguistic science and, especially, the ancient manuscripts and artifacts discovered in the last century. More importantly, the earliest copies, and the best of the more recent versions of Dao Dë Jing, are creative expressions of a living legacy. The wisdom of Dao Dë Jing was transmitted through successive generations of Lao Zjï’s living lineage.

The early Daoist masters were highly gifted psychologists, healers, artists, anthropologists and geo-political advisers, among other things. As the ancient “Chinese” languages and dialects changed, the masters relied on their own insight and creativity to produce the most effective version of Dao Dë Jing for their contemporaries, their people, their doctors and administrators. As much as possible, this rendition was written with as much native wit and relevance as Lao Zjï’s earliest disciples would draw from the cultural heritage of their homeland.

Living Wisdom’s Greatness is not a traditional work of academic scholarship. Lao Zjï boldly ridiculed academic scholarship, popular egoism and blind tradition. The “modern” manias for fame, wealth, status and scholarly pride were ‘old news’ in Lao Zjï’s day. Serious status seekers and famous scholars — including ‘Confucius’ (Kong Fu Zjï) — avoided contending with masters of Dao. According to Kong Fu Zjï, his interview with Lao Zjï was as astonishing and humbling as “watching the ascent of a dragon in the heavens.” Until more recent eras of “modern” history, no serious scholars would dare remaking Dao Dë Jing to suit their own theories, fancies, tastes or uses.

Creating a viable English interpretation of Dao Dë Jing requires much more psychic detective work than conventional translation. Fortunately, sifting out residual agendas and embedded bias in the many previous versions of Dao Dë Jing is less trouble than recreating a lost original of the Bible. For creating an English Dao Dë Jing though, in spirit, size, and form resembling the original, creative work informed by Dao is essential. Failing at that, any version is proportionally unlike the original in power and effect.

This very American reflection of Dao Dë Jing either works for you or it doesn’t but, hopefully, the illustrations provoke supplemental glimpses of the Way, fostering realization of its value.

Now, there are many good teachers, a few master teachers, and many inferior teachers, yet a book is no substitute. Dao Dë Jing was never a “do it yourself” how-to book. Typically, an early copy of Dao Dë Jing existed as a primer on the basics of the Way, a source of reminders for rulers, officials, their heirs and apprentices. How may modern individualists submit to the superior wisdom of a full-time, long-term mentor, advisor, or life coach? Daoist masters were always revered for exactly those capabilities and more. Still, as a written condensation of diplomacy, practical advice, folk wisdom, spirituality and ecological ethics, Dao De Jing is unsurpassed and virtually unequalled.

Such self-evident benefit led to Dao Dë Jing’s growing popularity as a guide for leadership, effective citizenship, good health and sanity in common households for over 2000 years.

Most of us are lucky that our affairs can be settled more easily than those complicating the lives of politicians and diplomats. If we take the advice of Lao Zjï and Buddha and Jesus, we can simplify our lives and do without a full-time life coach. Lao Zjï recommended the peace and quiet of nature, openness, understanding, and acceptance in harmony with the great Way. Buddha offered the great Way as an antidote to the Three Poisons, deluded ignorance (confusion, denial, etc.), selfishness (greed, craving), and hostility (anger, hate, illwill), which perpetuate all the inner and outer conflicts that endarken and enslave us. King Yishuah (Christ Jesus), taught that two divine laws include all else: 1) Love God fully, and 2) love others as yourself. Now, as in the time of Lao Zjï, even without the extra complications of professional politicians, most of us are more or less addicted to excess drama, usually failing to keep our lives peaceful, blissful, and simple.

Sages and great meditation masters are now more available to Western students than ever before. Yet, full realization of Lao Zjï’s original intent may only come after long training, hard won experience and diligent study of many versions of Dao Dë Jing, Buddhist teachings or the Bible.

Modern English versions of Dao Dë Jing are gaining a growing audience among younger generations of Chinese readers long deprived of full immersion in their own ancient cultural heritage. Western versions of Dao Dë Jing offer a broader perspective on its meaning and on the history of Daoism. According to Lao Zjï though, great learning is no substitute for the guidance of a living master and the resulting experience.

As we can see in the accompanying work, Trusting Heart’s Truth (Xin Xin Ming), the heart of Lao Zjï’s wisdom was embraced and nurtured by lineages of Buddhist masters who, in many regions, are now more numerous and available than Daoist Sages.

Dao Dë Jing involved some controversy before, during and since the advent of Communist rule in China. Some scholars doubt that an actual person called “Lao Zjï” ever existed. Others intuited that there was an original author, given that name as a reverential title. Very little remains of the old master’s personal history. Its legendary quality is appropriate for a Sage who saw egoism, fame, and other normal obsessions as delusional exercizes in futility or worse. According to Lao Zjï, truth is paradoxical. Truth can be stranger than normal folks can imagine. So, it seems safe to accept that the legend of Lao Zjï is based on his truth, if not on detailed records of his personal history.

To defuse useless doubts and other distractions, it helps to skip academic debates swirling around bones of contention concerning Lao Zjï and about definitive “translation” of certain words, passages, and implications. Such debates concern neither Dao nor the Sages of the past and present. Academic concerns have nothing to do with the broadest deepest understanding of the living Dao and Dë. Dao Dë Jing says that a Sage uses words that best serve the truth, for the good of all. According to the enlightened Sages, dwelling in either the “outer” emptiness of worldly conceptions or an “inner” space devoid of Dao’s integrity, knowing more than we understand, is a form of illness. Dao Dë Jing is really about embodying the spirit or character of Dë and expressing the essence of Dao.

Dao Dë Jing consistently supports Lao Zjï’s view that the wise sustain a selfless presence and oneness with Dao. That means respecting what one ‘is’ more than who one ‘was’ in a long gone past or stories about it. False distinctions between name and title, or personality and reputation, distract us from clear awareness of the momentary issue of being. Without realizing the Way and acting accordingly, we rarely find our way out of even mild states of worldly hypnosis, ambition, haste, and terminal confusion. Difficult as it may be, it seems wiser to take Lao Zjï’s advice, and avoid getting entangled in worldly concerns.

Some scholars, military historians, ethnic chauvinists, and egocentric critics of Daoism may say that the evolution of military technology, the devolution of empires and the rise of global consumerism disprove Dao Dë Jing’s geopolitical validity, its relevance. Some may say that Lao Zjï and his followers were hopelessly idealistic, unrealistic or mistaken about the best way to conduct affairs of state, warfare, and homelife. Such conclusions are short-sighted and misleading. The best archeology proves that even Genghis Khan was more compassionate and constructive than destructive. Yet, though may have desired it, neither the Great Khan nor his successors, nor their modern copy-cats ever conquered or improved the whole world. The formerly undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and mathematical genius, John Nash, won a Nobel Prize for initiating the modern era of economic game theory. New game theory now proves that Lao Zjï, Buddha, and Jesus were right about the value of Dao Dë, the Way of great virtue, compassion and positive cooperation. Unbridled globalization of the industrial bureaucratic complex is still poisoning the whole planet. The modern idea that 200 or even 5000 years is “a long time” is purely fictional. Life on Earth may suffer from our destructive blunders for countless generations, if life as we know it continues here that long. The modern critics of limited view, microscopic attention span, and not so hidden agendas are clearly untrustworthy.

It may seem that Dao leaves no room for normal relationships and cozy little lives in the “real” world. On the contrary, hundreds of thousands of generations of prehistoric success and mostly cozy intimacy brought us to this modern age without all our technologies. It would be ridiculous to say that the 200 generations busily ruining the planet for 10,000 years are more “normal” than the 100,000 or more that usually lived in joyous natural harmony. We should delete any conceit that modern people are superior because we possess greater quantities of tools, objects, obligations, problems and the ills of civilization. If civilized conquerors had not been intent on destroying and degrading primitive peoples — eliminating evidence of their superior health, happiness, and harmony — most of us might experience life as a nonstop, ecstatically blissful, mystic journey. We might be living legends, possessing mystic titles appropriate to the quality of our compassionate accomplishments. That is our birthright preserved and nurtured by the lineages of enlightened Sages.

Lao Zjï’s legendary history comes in several regional varieties that must have mutated through the millennia, all worth considering. Here is a modern English synopsis:

About 2600 years ago, after being conceived by a comet and born with the wisdom awareness of an ancient ‘old soul’, Lao Zjï (possibly named “Er Li” at birth) eventually became the royal archivist and advisor to his king. Lao Zjï, a very caring and perceptive exemplar, practiced what he preached. He grew discouraged with the prospects for helping his people while confined to the precincts and routines of the royal court (with all its customary social games). The Master decided to leave the city, to live in quiet harmony with nature and spirit. Allegedly, a noble captain of the guard begged Lao Zjï not to desert the city, depriving the kingdom of his wise counsel. Failing to persuade the Master to postpone retirement, the gatekeeper asked Lao Zjï to leave a record of his essential insights and advice, for the sake of present and future generations. Lao Zjï was wary of committing anything more to writing, but the noble captain’s sincere concern finally provoked the Sage’s great compassion. As the master dictated, the captain wrote down Lao Zjï’s final official work as royal advisor. The great Sage then left for the mountains. After leaving life in the big city behind, Lao Zjï attracted more followers, starting a lineage of masters and disciples, living throughout the world today.

It may be technically impossible to be a Daoist, an ‘-ist’ of something that transcends the realm of -isms, but several million Daoists live in English speaking countries alone. Many of us are familiar with some of the core insights and truths of Dao handed down by Lao Zjï and his successors. Relatively few of us know of Daoism or realize what a long strange trip it endured and how much it influenced the development of culture, globally.

The ravages of war, imperial conquest, dynastic degeneracy, worldly turmoil and perversity were difficult even for descendants of Lao Zjï’s early students and followers. That led to the development of China’s great healing arts, Chi Gung as well as Tai Chi, Kung Fu, and other martial arts. Though a Sage may not be troubled by the world, not all one’s followers attain constant harmony in one lifetime. Daoism diverged into first two, then three traditional mutations of what began as a nontraditional response by and to its originator, Dao, the Way itself. The third variant of Daoism then splintered. The Daoist shamanic tradition of the common folk spawned one of the most corrupt ‘state’ religions of all. Imperial Daoism submerged itself in grotesque superstition and deadly ego games. Dao Dë Jing’s core reality and living expression survived only in the enlightened lineages of Sages and master healers.

The quality of this or any other interpretation of Dao Dë Jing can be recognized by its capacity for assisting us in recognizing and staying with the Great Way. Yet, since the English language is so very limiting for expressing such vast implications, serious seekers will do well to study several versions of Dao Dë Jing simultaneously. Very useful commentaries and supplementary information accompany the source works and references listed in the bibliography. They may be of great help to anyone who wants to form their own opinion of the validity and quality of this or any other English version of Dao Dë Jing. More importantly, the process of deeply investigating Dao may lead to the ultimate good fortune — finding one of the living Sages of Dao Dë — the giver and gift that keep on giving, endlessly.

On Sëng San’s Xin Xin Ming

Xin Xin Ming was the first native Chinese Sutra and the first classic of Chan Buddhism (later called Zen in Japan). Xin Xin Ming expresses the unique essence, attitude and vision of Buddha’s Dharma and Dao Dë, the Great Way. Sëng San’s distillation of Dao’s dynamic essence, permits deeper appreciation of the wisdom of Lao Zjï by evoking and provoking deeper insights than possible with a scholarly commentary. With Xin Xin Ming, Sëng San married the compassionate wisdom of Buddha and China’s own enlightened Sages — winning the hearts and minds of the common people of China.

My study of Xin Xin Ming began in 1983, with ‘Hsin Hsin Ming, Verses on Faith Mind’, by Richard Clarke. Research on a new version of Sëng San’s little classic, began in 1994.

Artistically, Trusting Heart’s Truth, is a very free rendering of Xín Xín Míng. It is impossible to be perfectly true to the letter of the original. The aim of this interpretation is coming as close as possible to the spirit of Xín Xín Míng using English. Without the benefit of equal enlightenment and direct dialogue with the author, the odds of perfect success will always be less than ideal. For most English speaking readers, having inspired versions is better than having none. If this version inspires better ones, then I will be grateful.

Sëng San’s original sutra transcends the realm of art, but it was designed for esthetic effectiveness. If brevity is the soul of wit, Xin Xin Ming packs ultimate potency in the incredible density of meaning in each line. With just thirty-six verses, all but one having four lines each, with two ideograms per line, the original is ideal for hearing and chanting in Chinese. Each verse had a rhyme structure, usually every other line. Like any great song, Xin Xin Ming is ripe with memorable hooks, one-liners and two-liners that make classic quotes.

Sëng San’s sutra is a work of poetic genius. The original Chinese version is elegantly structured to be sung, chanted, and memorized. Xin Xin Ming’s power is its way of showing — with plain, simple language — that we can all realize Buddhahood in this lifetime. The Master tells us that we can all actualize our inborn potential for perfect fulfillment — not in an uncertain and remotely distant future — but now, in the present moment. That was revolutionary. Nothing written in China before Xin Xin Ming provoked such Satori, such sudden, piercing insight into our true nature, Buddha Nature.

Like his Daoist predecessors, Sëng San sometimes used words implying many of our English words, sentences, paragraphs, or pages worth of ideas. Multiple levels of reference, meaning, wisdom, and subtle humor were expressed with great economy. For us, a non-Chinese version provides both more and less than the original. Fortunately, Xin Xin Ming is so potent that an effective English version can convey much of the content, if not all the charm and power of the original. Despite linguistic and personal limitations, Sëng San’s meaning shines through, proving the truth of his insight, “there is one dharma, not many” and one Way of enlightenment “not 2” nor three or more.

Buddha’s enlightenment is not other than Lao Zjï’s. What empowers Xin Xin Ming is in us — beyond conventional social conditioning, habitual dualizing, intellectual nitpicking and judging — not in a nonexistent “out there” somewhere else.

Xin Xin Ming’s most attractive element is Sëng San’s compassionate wisdom. For anyone needing relief from excess stress, frustration, and suffering, Sëng San’s prescription is effective today, anytime, anywhere.

True to Dao, the great Way, Master Sëng San was unconcerned with fame, status, and fortune. Sëng San traveled almost constantly, teaching Dharma and caring for his people. In 606 CE, Sëng San passed away while standing before his students, holding out a branch. The Master’s fame grew and spread long after his death, along with his teaching lineage and influence.

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About the Author

2010/05/23

Bio :: Michael Lucas Monterey

Thanks to his maternal grandmother, Michael Monterey, artist, pioneering ecotect, ecotherapist, inventor-designer and author, began training in the fine arts at the age of 4 and, at 15, in fine architecture as a draftsman. His talent and commitment to excellence led to design and co-design of hundreds of award winning residential projects and work on high profile projects like KCI (Kansas City International airport), the Truman Sports Complex (stadiums for the KC Chiefs & Royals), and other large projects by the age of 21. Monterey’s research in advanced technology began in 1969, along with freelance graphic design on the side. In 1975, he began studying the visionary ecological architecture and city planning of Paolo Soleri. That led Monterey to extensive research of ancient architecture and his discovery and development of neoprimitive “ecotecure” (responsible architecture integrating the best of ancient and modern concepts, techniques, and materials).

New theory, systems, and strategies for sustainable community development, integrating affordable neoprimitive materials, were inspired by the millennial sustainability of ancient buildings. Some, in the Sahara, are in constant use after more than 4,300 years. From 1980 to now, in California, New Mexico, Baja, Fiji, the Mid-West, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Carolina — often while building successful businesses, despite cyclic setbacks and hardships caused by the anti-green economy — Monterey planned, designed, and co-designed beautiful green homes, cabins, eco-houseboats, and eco-resort communities at the leading edge of ecotecture and sustainable technology.

Monterey began experiments with new formulas and prototypes of his neoprimitive Ultradobe building materials in 2003. In 2004, he began the planning and redesign of the Life Restaurant Project, an ultragreen, 5 Star restaurant, featuring a raw, vegan, gourmet menu; and co-founded Green Community Builders and began design of an ultragreen Dream Home, the Hilltop Grove Project in San Marcos, California. Monterey began successful experiments with natural, nontoxic, inflammable foam insulation in 2005.

R&D of new materials, products, systems and designs for affordable high performance buildings blossomed into a vast range of new styles, techniques, and designs. Monterey’s ultragreen buildings integrate structural systems and features with dynamic passive-solar design for natural heating, cooling, and near zero or net zero energy costs for any climate or site. Monterey’s experience with complex projects and ventures — including his own successful manufacturing and publishing companies — reinforced his practical approach to planning for affordability, sustainability, quality and beauty.

From 1967 on, Monterey was fortunately blessed by amazing experiences and culture heroes, mentors and teachers. Growing interest in Tantric Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism led to deep devotion, study, and training with accomplished Lamas and Rinpoches. Monterey’s first book project, Awakening 101, was a hit at Borders for 3 years. An expanded, revised edition and other books, on ecotecture, ecopsychology, spirituality, and the greening of culture are in progress. He currently enjoys living and working in the hills of eastern San Diego County, California.

Samples of Michael Monterey’s work and blogs are online at:
>> ecotectura.ning.com & michaelmonterey.wordpress.com
©2010 Michael Monterey

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Planning an Affordable Green Dream Home

2010/05/16

Most of us are infected by a little ecocidal neurosis, at least. Most folks have been so busy surviving or thriving as a successful specialist in some other career, they learn of only a small fraction of the technical developments in the vast fields of modern architecture, ecotecture, and green construction technology. Most custom home designers and their clients discover that most clients don’t know as much about their needs, wants, limits, and options as they thought before deciding on custom home design. Some owner-builders of DIY custom homes find out the hard way.
> Unless you are going to invest as much time and expert effort in researching or upgrading the field, an expert professional designer or green building consultant can be your best guarantee against regret, heartbreak, the sense of loss and depression caused by discovering what you missed — after building.
> Even if you only want help with preliminary planning and design development, a veteran green designer can usually decrease your costs, risks, mistakes, and disappointments. A veteran green designer can also save you money on engineering and architectural fees, even if their services are required.
> Often, clients have very little knowledge of the full range of possibilities available or, at least, far less than veteran professionals who devote themselves to keeping up with or ahead of the field.
> A custom home or green community design project can be planned and developed in phases, as the funding permits. This seems a useful possibility, since great custom design of green dream homes and communities often require lots of time for discovering all the needs, wants, preferences, loves, likes, inspiring cultural influences, etc.
> Combining the best mix of solutions and design concepts for the best possible results on a unique site is a highly complex process. So, generally, the longer the project research, analysis, planning and design development work, the better the results.
> Since clients often have little or no experience with the 10,000 things required for great custom home design & building and, usually, live with the results for quite awhile, taking plenty of time for great planning and design usually works best. Future custom home owners/builders also tend to have less knowledge of all the ways to make their project most affordable, beautiful, and livable, than a leading edge professional. Even in the case of a tiny eco-cabin, the possibilities, complexities and choices are vastly numerous.
> A great custom home designer, green or otherwise, is as important, as compassionate and committed to sustaining your quality of life as a great doctor, or maybe more so.
> Please feel free to ask about your options for Green Feng Shui consulting, planning, and/or home design.
> Sincerely, Michael Monterey

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Awareness & Addiction

2010/01/12

Awareness & Addiction
A chapter of the forthcoming book, “Awareness and Appearance”
©2007-2010 Michael Monterey

“Enlightened beings accept reality and the world as it is. Unenlightened beings are at war with the way the world is.” – H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

“The only thing that can counteract the infinite human capacity for self-deception is our infinite capacity for awareness.” – Carlos Castaneda

“One who knows that heaven and hell exist only in the heart is called a Buddha. One who does not know that is called deluded.” – Nichiren Daishonin

Introduction

Try this little mental experiment:

If you became totally addicted to believing that religified psychedelic egohood and drug induced euphoria are Buddhahood and Heaven, then how would you ever get out of that addiction and into either Buddhahood or Heaven on Earth?

Deep insight into the use and misuse of “mind medicines” offers powerful realizations of the nature of awareness and the way out of addiction.

Everything concerning addiction to mind medicines relates to elements of all other addictions.  Because of our typically overwhelming tendency to habitual obsession and devotion, misuse of mind medicines – psychedelics, hallucinogens, entheogens, herbal sacraments, intoxicants and synthetic psychotropics – can be the most seductive and persistent of all addictions.  Addiction to mood altering substances often reinforces and amplifies our other delusional complexes and relational addictions, complicating the complexities and intricacies of society and the mind.

More than 40 years ago, the most experienced psychedelic explorer in modern history, Timothy Leary, warned that using psychedelics as a spiritual path is the most difficult way of all. The potential pitfalls, seductions, subversions, setbacks and sidetracks are numerous and serious.

If addiction were not such an ancient plague, the modern era could be called the Age of Addiction.  To one degree or another, everyone is born into the Culture of Addiction.

Before you were born, before you were conceived in this life, what you are was as endlessly perfect as the beginningless, infinite, source of all that was, is or ever will be.

Just being conceived, born and raised in the world tends to turn human beings into Energy Junkies, Power Junkies, Attention Addicts, Control Freaks, Pleasure Junkies, Misery Junkies or normally adaptive cowards, addicted to cycles of fake happiness and suffering, sometimes from before birth.  The combination of natural instincts and social programming is so powerful that most people never begin to redo it, but it can be undone and redone.  The mind-body’s biocomputer can be reprogrammed.

You are a miraculous gift and so is Mother Earth.  Your human birth on this amazing planet was a miraculous event, your life is a sacred treasure.  Each moment of presence is a precious opportunity for any one with a whole brain to realize the living Truth of absolute freedom and fulfillment.  Then the ultimate miracle cure is possible, spontaneous remission of psychic AIDS (the delusional ego trip).

Perfect freedom sustains perfect responsiveness, faith, confidence and compassion.  Perfect fulfillment sustains perfect gratitude, love and devotion.

What is addiction?  Addiction is anti-grace, anti-gratitude, anti-awareness, anti-presence, anti-compassion, anti-love and anti-freedom. Addiction, habitual negativity, diversion and distraction require the negation, subversion and perversion of all the positive, life enhancing aspects and modes of consciousness.

Grace and devotion are unitive, expansive, creative and constructive. Addiction is divisive, constrictive, negative and destructive.

Of all humanity’s illnesses, addiction is the closest to a team sport.  The old saying is so true, ‘misery loves company’ because socially programmed humans are creatures of habit.  Deluded ego’s selves are like psychic birds, flocking together to reinforce our sense of normality, reality. 

As children, we develop the habit of identifying misery with our way of living, as an elemental part of normal existence, interweaving itself into every aspect of our lives.  We tend to experience some degree of suffering and dissatisfaction as chronic, low grade distress, deficiency or deprivation.  To some extent, we learn to live with them, ignore them, stuff them or accept them and take them for granted, like background noise or the feel of the road in a moving vehicle.  The world and the cruel ordeals of childhood and adolescence tend to crystallize our rationalization of the typical traumas, bizaare adaptations and corrupting compromises we suffer on the way to normal adulthood.  We get by with a little help from our friends, our families or whatever behavioral crutches we find most helpful or enjoyable.  For most of us, our family, friends, pseudo-tribes and the socially acceptable intoxicants provide enough mild mood elevation, sedation and/or anesthesia to keep us from falling into severe dysfunction.

Still, a little dysfunction is dysfunctional, and many tiny pains are painful.  Suffering is suffering, no matter how we mask it, numb it or cloak it with a perverse obsession.  Sustainable recovery requires reversion to Original Grace.

For many addicts trapped in atrocious patterns of negativity, destruction, pain and suffering, Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 Step programs are wonderful resources.  All of them have the same common strengths and weaknesses.  AA and NA rarely, if ever, lead to ultimate liberation and the supreme bliss of complete spiritual fulfillment, enlightenment.  For addicts unwilling to abandon The World and all the supports for normally limited consciousness, the 12 Steps are often the only alternative to horrific damage and self-destruction.

For the rest of us, many alternatives allow radical recovery, fostering the return to Original Grace, full presence, pure awareness, sustainable freedom and supreme bliss in this lifetime.

Since psychedelic states of consciousness can seem virtually eternal, I sincerely want to confirm, affirm and celebrate all positive realizations, insights, intuitions, inspirations, aspirations, intentions, decisions and actions.  We each have positive karmas in our flow, and all are worth fostering, appreciating, honoring, cultivating and protecting.  Ecstatic, mystical or visionary experiences do tend to have positive value and effects.  I honor and respect them, whatever the cause or source may seem to be, as much as I respect Truths that come from beyond my personal experience and knowledge.  I also value mental health and self-honesty as highly as serene bliss and supreme compassion.

So, here is my Universal Disclaimer:
Like Tim Leary, Aldous Huxley and many other modern pioneers of inner space, my use of mind medicines helped me enjoy more ecstatic bliss, consciousness, heaven and hell than most people experience in many lifetimes.  Still, that did not prevent occasionally imperfect and/or misleading statements and mistakes nor sincere apologies.  For example, when a thing is said one way, other meanings are usually left unsaid and may seem unappreciated.  In that case, that is not the case.  While some conflicting interpretations may be unavoidable, this is not intended to condemn, demean, contradict or oppose other perceptions, interpretations and opinions.  This chapter is not food of the gods nor Holy Revelation.  It may be food for thought, for fostering helpful introspection, insight and understanding.

The many amazing effects and results of personal experience with mind medicines were ultimately positive and eventually transformative, yet mixed.  The benefits were results of my own aspirations, intentions, decisions, actions and efforts, not of any substances.  The side-tracks, drawbacks, setbacks, damages, severe pain and suffering, however, were due largely to effects of the substances on an unprepared mind, stuffed with the bad ideas, popular misconceptions, urban legends, some superstitious nonsense, negativities, anxieties and natural vulnerabilities of an incompletely cultivated life in an insane world game, a world of egos at war with nature and spirit.

This is also a retrospective, prescriptive survey of contra-indications, not so subtle long-term side-effects, and potentially devastating consequences of inappropriate self-medication with psychedelics and entheogens, hallucinogenic and/or psychotropic mind medicines.  Since traditional mind medicines and some modern psychedelics are used for curing addiction, the focus here is not mainly the psychotic casualties of the Psychedelic Revolution, nor the various subcults of the drug culture.  The main issue is the more subtle, yet potentially persistent, self-limiting results.  Favorite medicines too often become favorite habits, vices reinforced by the powerful seductions and subversions of the Culture of Addiction (AKA Normal Society, or one of its more exotic subgroups).

Some of you probably contracted and recoiled already, thinking, “Whew, this guy’s view must be too limited. He is ignoring the ancient tribal traditions, the sacred use of natural mind medicines. I sincerely respect, revere and honor those Holy sacraments, very highly.”

Please, bear with me. Yes, the indigenous cultures’ traditional sacraments, used with their shamans’ guidance, for healing and sacred inspiration are worthy of reverent respect.  Use of ancient sacraments by people immersed in an industrial, materialist-mechanist social matrix is a totally different thing.  The ancient tribal knowledge, cultural wisdom and spiritual guidance of a highly experienced, native guide may as well exist in a parallel universe or on a different planet.

Triage

It is very hard, if not impossible, to find a fully qualified shamanic guide who will commit to the long-term training of a modern urbanite for initiation into the tribal Medicine Way.  For one thing, highly experienced shamans see their own limitations as well as alien patterns of neurotic social conditioning.  The legion of chronic ego demons typical of mechanist Consumer Culture may be far beyond the scope of a tribal shaman’s knowledge and skills.  In remote rain forests, an urbanite may enoy a highly cathartic, transformative trip to the inner jungle and beyond, to the fringe of ancient heavens and hells, but never reach the consciousness and healing experienced by members of ancient tribal cultures.  Being born and raised in one makes it possible to absorb much if not all of the vast knowledge, deep wisdom and responsive relational patterns of an ancient tribal spiritual culture.  There is no substitute.

Kidding ourselves about that, or using it as a bogus excuse for favorite self-deceptions and recreations, only cripples us, keeping us stuck in illusions, delusions and unfortunate habits, causing more suffering, not less.

All humans tend to be more or less plagued with deceptions perpetrated by self and others, blind spots, chronic denial, selective inattention, selective memory, attachments, preferences, a love of or obsession with pleasure, insatiable cravings, unconscious taboos, aversions, unliberated, endarkening negativity, fear, doubt, suspicion and resistance to healthy change.  To the extent of our infection with all that, it corrupts us, harming us and our loved ones, destroying our lives, ruining our environment, our planetary life support system, and degrading the quality of our children’s future.

Self-liberation by self-managed self-medication, self-directed deprogramming, reprogramming and disinfection of one’s own human biocomputer are difficult, usually very scary.  Because of our incredibly strong tendency to prefer bliss, ecstatsy, elation, euphoria and pleasure over the relatively painful alternatives, including health, sanity, boredom and mediocracy, at best, being our own exorcist (biocomputer technician) is typically less than totally successful.  We all have more than a little damaged karmic baggage, limiting, befogging and distorting self-perception, decreasing our capacity for self-honesty.  We also have many negative incentives weighing against taking time off to thoroughly investigate the mind and how to completely, correctly analyze its socially programmed operating system, to discover each and every psychic virus and disinfect it completely.

As Leary saw so clearly, attempting self-illumination via self-medication with psychotropics is difficult because of the intrinsic puzzle of civilized existence and consciousness.  Seemingly innocently, in a corrupt system, we slide into positive feedback loops.  It becomes ever harder to see through the invisible walls we build with the world — our co-conspirators — family members, friends, teachers and associates.

The pioneers of family therapy and addiction recovery treatment all agree that the majority of normal families are addictive-dysfunctional systems, functioning like emotional blackmail rings.  Normally dysfunctional families specialize in cleverly disguised, yet ruthless manipulation for the sake of deception, control, illusions of power and security.  Some are seemingly worse than others, but the pattern pervades modern industrial society and its global Consumer Culture.

The core issue — recognized by all the great Sages, Gurus, Prophets, Buddhas and Christ — is actually innocence and integrity versus corruption and narcissistic perversion.

Scanning & Disinfecting the Human Bio-Computer

The modern Buddhist Sage, Ken Wilbur, calls the modern, aggressively Narcissistic self-obsession,  Boomeritis.  Elevated to the level of an institutionalized, culturally enforced, commercially sponsored norm, Boomeritis is turbocharged by addiction to anything and everything, especially consumption, entertainment and other forms of delusion, distraction, denial and deliberate ignorance.

We all want pleasure and happiness, but who wants to abandon the seductive causes of suffering?  When we no longer recognize them, they are worse than invisible.  They seem to offer easy solutions and quick fixes for ego’s nightmare.  They seem to make us feel good and give us a sense of belonging to a special group of users or relatives.

This seems a very hard, cold, cruel world without belonging to a supportive group, a special family, a clan, a pseudo-tribe of like-minded kindred spirits.  Anyone who ever tried knows that changing tribes or groups never feels perfectly easy or painless, no matter how badly we want out.  Most of us have such powerful, subconscious defensive mechanisms that we never get to see the need for radical change.  That makes us feel trapped, stuck, ever more unfree.  Inevitably, we want to escape.  Yet, usually, we find more powerful ways to distract and deceive ourselves.  That sometimes seems to require mind medicines, ancient shamanic entheogens, natural sacraments, intoxicants or anesthetics.

Buddha says that everything we do, no matter how absurd or atrocious, is really because we want to be happy and free.  Osho says that nothing is more precious or important than Freedom.  Crazy Wisdom master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that the only real freedom is mental freedom.  The rest is just delusion and/or confusion.  Real freedom is complete not partial, actual not delusional. 

There is no spiritual liberation beyond or apart from mental freedom.  Our mentality is an inseparable aspect of our being, essential, central, basic to what we are.  Without mental freedom and clarity, we have no way to discern the reality and value of our experience, of anything, God or whatever.

Now, call a spade a spade and stay compassionate.  No pill or herbal sacrament will ever erase a lifetime of habit devoted to negativity, emotional slavery, bondage or endarkenement.  No quick fix exists for instantly getting a subverted ego over its own unsatisfying addiction to normality, especially not a ‘spiritualized’ materialism, a seemingly divine egohood or a heavenly normality.

The pioneering psychotherpist, Dr. Carl Jung, noticed that “enlightenment makes the darkness visible.”

That makes awakening a very unpopular option.  Before Jung, Gautama Buddha noticed that normally socialized egos are passionately obsessed with ignorance, now associated with “denial” and other mental malfunctions.  Constant commitment to denial, is a commitment to conflict, hostility, and constant hostility is a prescription for chronic endarkenment, dissatisfaction, misery, insanity, disease and war.

To be free we need to be sane.  To be sane we need to be realistic, happy and effective.  Otherwise, we are wasting the present moment on a depressing, counter-productive, unwinnable war against spirit, nature and the world.

What are the odds in a war between a lone ego and the World?  Betting on the World is a safe bet.

While being interdependent functions and products of each other, the World was always in the business of subverting, perverting, subsuming, then consuming egoic selves.  Yet, however atrocious, the World is really not crazy, it is hungry, but it is not life, not nature.  According to the masters of Awareness, the World is an illusory production of mass-hypnosis and mass-hallucination by, for, and of the normal ego that insists on indulging in self-deception at all costs, no matter what.

As Meister Eckhart Tolle points out, the worldly ego’s sole agenda is exploiting people and situations, dividing and conquering.  War is the ultimate stratagem enforcing ego’s delusional story, its drama of a separate existence in a real world.  Pain, suffering and the illusory finality of death makes it globally convincing.

The normally socialized ego and ‘The World’ are both objects of
thought.  The world, things, and people are not what they seem, and yet they are.  Whatever appears to exist out there is impossible to separate from what we think it is in here, in the the matrix of consciousness.

Paradoxically, from Buddha’s ultimate view, the World and ‘others’ are manifestations of Wisdom and Karma (infinite energy, awareness and causal interaction).  In other words, instead of seeming to be good and bad or pure and impure objects and entities or figments of socially programmed consciousness, our selves and others can be seen as modes of expression, everchanging forms of infinite presence, divinity, awareness, energy, light and space.  Worldly value judgments and reactions are optional and illusory.

Essentially, life is relational.  The community of life, the web of universal relationship is the context and source of sentient being.  A “self” is nothing more or less than an interactive function of all its mental phenomena, its definitions, beliefs, opinions, karmas and relationships, expressing the creative potentials of universal being within limits.  Apart from all the relations giving shape and meaning to this life, my self would be an impossibly meaningless word.  Since my life is not separate from the totality of all life, my self as something other than a functional result of infinite relatedness is impossible.  My apparent individuality is an expression of totality, like a wave is an intrinsic function of the ocean and the sky.  The appearance of individuality depends on perception and socially conditioned interpretation, the realities of information, wisdom and awareness do not.

Like the Law of Attraction, Karma (the law of interdependent interaction, action-reaction or stimulus-response) is an unbreakable universal law.  It is a self-evident, natural fact, like energy, reliably recognizable, beyond believing.  Cause and effect are essential to everything, everything we think, feel, see, use and do. You can refuse to believe in it, but will that ever change universal reality or the nature of karma?

Truth may seem painful, but karma is not the problem.  Good actions of body, speech and mind always produce good results, sooner or later.
We live in a ravaged environment, driven to the brink of disaster by mass insanity, corruption and perversion. Despite anyone’s favorite illusions, opinions, preferences and prejudices, their sohisticated superstitions, moral relativism and ethical dualism will never negate or delete natural realities.  Negative opinions and emotional reactions will never undo the biochemical excretions and results they generate. 

Saddled with more or less excrutiating pain, suffering and anxiety or terror, how can we attain and sustain the unconditional love and compassionate wisdom required for a full cure?

The Cure

How does all this relate to mind medicine, psychotropic intoxicants and sacramental entheogens?

The word “psychedelic” means mind manifesting, accurately describing the basic value of such medicines.  What we can see with psychedelic aid is the nature, ways and means of our own mind, mentality conditioned by our socially programmed limitations and expectations.

Responsible psychedelic guides and shamans always warn against expecting or wanting more from a psychedelic experience than our own psychic capacity and preparation permits.  During temporary, chemically altered states of consciousness, we expand only to the limits of our current appetite for exotic experience, then we “come down” into the same little self that drove us to want a way out, an alternative.

We may loosen the reins for awhile, temporarily dissolving the inner walls and locked doors, briefly expanding our consciousness somewhat, but not totally.  Ego’s false self then reverts to its habitual karma and control, shrinking us back down to ‘normal’ again.  Ego then carries on, with a more exotic yet unliberated self, with exotic new stories, creating more exotic yet unsatisfactory results.  There are exceptions, and some are what we can call the casualties of the Psychedelic Revolution, the walking wounded, lost in space or hell.

The effects and results of self-medication with mind medicine are determined by the quality or deficiency of our own mentality, our self-cultivation, our karmic momentum and, in some cases, our addiction to denial.

Ego’s sense of a real and separate self is a self-deception, depending on ignorant confusion, selective inattention, deliberate ignorance, denial of reality.  Seen in the clear light of true freedom, normal selfhood and the World are figments of insanity.

A high meditation master of Tibetan Buddhist lineage, in a moment of rare candor, told an interviewer that the greatest value of mind medicine is the realization of emptiness.  The meaning of “emptiness” in Buddhism is the interdependent origination of co-emergent wisdoms.  In other words, mind medicine can help us see the interactive creativity of perception and appearance, awareness and presence.  So, what you see is what you get, and so on.  Echoing the little known warnings of Tim Leary, the Lama said that the danger of self-directed self-medication with mind medicine is that “it is very hard to know when enough is enough.”

What we do with mind medicine without a highly effective, experienced guide is an attempt on the part of a dissatisfied ego’s false self to escape its own self-generated, self-perpetuating habits of suffering and delusion, self-deception.

Our worst Catch 22 — damned if we do and damned if we don’t — is our ignorant blindness to our inability to be our own doctor while busy being our own worst enemy.

When what we really want is a whole life makeover, the last person in the world we should trust with our only brain is our self.  Since ego’s self is what got us into the unsatisfactory state we want to escape, how in the world do we ever believe that it will get us out of it?

Ego’s false self construct, has no power or capacity either for liberating us, and no interest in telling us when enough is enough.  Self wants to keep its Big Dream going.

Worldly self is a walking, talking bundle of lies, fears and habits, that’s all.

Before getting hooked on the unsatisfactory suffering of mistaken identity syndrome and all the activities perpetuating self’s drama, we were shocked into bewildered spiritual amnesia.  Before that, more or less briefly, we enjoyed the original Way of Awareness.  Without dropping back into original Awareness, failing to realize how to disidentify with the mind of ego’s fake self-world construct, how can the undisciplined ingestion of substances help us find a sustainable way out?  Not very likely, not any time soon, anyway.

Respecting and considering the wisdom of the ancients is usually useful.  Shenpa is a Tibetan word for hookedness, the worldly self’s basic condition.  Look, if the ego’s false self really wanted a way out of its self-imposed hell, then it would seek a direct path back to Original Grace, child-like innocence, bliss and natural harmony.  Right?

The worldy self never does that or does it so rarely that those lucky individuals are looked upon as great saints or Buddhas who come along once every 500 years or so.  The obvious truth is that ego’s false self habit has no interest in anything but self-perpetuation.  Its mission is the exploitation of people and situations for the sake of its one obsessive compulsion, illusory existence.

Ego gets so hooked on self’s imaginary existence, normality, it is not to be trusted with a real life.

Ego’s complex dilemma is so tightly interwoven into the mental-social fabric of human existence, it warrants diligent observation, investigation and constant vigilance.  We can and should uncover every excuse, each layer of illusion, in order to release them.
For better perspective, the following paragraphs expose the realities and challenges from other angles.

Socialized egos depend on drama, resistance, judgment, comparison, conflict and consequences, reward and punishment, gain and pain, status and negative competition, money, war and so on.  Without winning and losing and score how could a worldly self evaluate, justify or even recognize its illusory existence, among others?  Expectation, frustration, anger, conflict, pain, suffering, destruction and blame shifting give the ego’s false identity a compelling sense of substantial reality.  Why else would countless generations be addicted to such negativity and violent conflict?

Who or what is there to get frustrated or angry about?  My fear, pain, suffering, mistakes, confusion, my favorite illusions and unrealistic expectations are mine, not yours.  The same is true of you.  Yet, for many of us, it becomes second nature to deny or ignore that, forfeiting constant peace, contentment, fulfillment, freedom and compassion.

Now, if I were a great heart surgeon, would I want to operate on myself?  Does a great brain surgeon trust himself to operate on his own brain?  Would a psychotherapist with signs and symptoms of serious depression or neurosis, reject the help of another expert counselor?  Well, not while retaining enough sanity for sustaining the best chance of relief and recovery.

We really have only one simple choice:  In the only moment there is, we can either regain and sustain the integrity of free awareness and pure presence in harmony, or indulge in illusory perception, dualistic belief, divisive opinion, disharmony and civilized insanity.  The healthy decision includes the cure and finding the best help available.

Mind medicine may help us see the illusory limitations of normative mental programming but, without expert help, cultural support, and a major personal effort, it will not help us build a new lifetime of positive habits.  No dose of material medicine can restore you to your original, endlessly pure perfection.  To really be what you already are takes a radical and total change of mentality, attitude, purpose, lifestyle and sometimes a new career, family, friends and society.

Sustaining Recovery

An old Zen saying tells us that Zen mind is beginner’s mind.  Thich Nhat Hahn, the great Vietnamese Zen master, says that the Kingdom is now or never.

My experience, perceptions and memories are my own creations, either the Way of Heaven or the way of waste, Hell.  We each have our own unique pattern of causes, results, relations and potentials, but the Truth is that we have NO TIME TO WASTE on any thing.  That’s double true of a delusional self.

Only three fictions exist outside the harmony of the infinite moment, a story about the past or about the future or about what we think other people think.  Personal reality is a flow of thoughts happening one by one in the singular moment of presence. 

Habit keeps us stuck in delusional stories, trapped, running between hope and fear, the way of the world, not the way out of it.  Stubborn insistence on being right about our stories about illusion, insisting on our Rights to miserable karmas and results will never accomplish anything other than more insanity, disharmony, destruction and suffering.  Adding psychedelics, exotic experiences and visions to our story without dropping self’s agenda will never change the nature of the story nor the nature of the consequences.

A false self’s story about a need to free the mind with a magical medicine—to escape from a world of illusion by using a substance from and of that same world—is a very tricky and addictive illusion.  Like chasing flower petals or bubbles drifting on the breeze in a dream, that never liberated anyone from normal endarkenment.

Another difficulty of the psychedelic path, as with antibiotics and bacterial infections, taking mind medicine without completing the cure gives an ego’s self greater immunity to remedies.  With herbal remedies, psychedelics and drugs, taking more, more frequently, leads to greater psychic resistance, ever less effectiveness.

Since ego’s false self is illusory, we have no one to blame, but deluded ego’s habitual blame shifting increases subliminal paranoia and panic, its constant, gnawing distress and unfortunate results.  Overwhelmed by the results of its errors and binges, its obsessive-compulsive attempts at gaining control, maintaining control, then losing control, inevitably trying to regain a sense of normality, the addicted ego demonstrates its incompetence and existential absurdity.  And, it wants to do it over and over and over and over again…

Worldly ego’s stubborn resistance to honest acceptance of reality, as is, means desperate clinging to habitual fictions and negativity.  Severely dysfunctional programming tricks us into subverting and perverting our best tendencies, turning our best qualities against us.  Short of suicide, the ultimate downside is addiction to substances or processes or relational routines.  Addiction is the perversion of devotion, turning it into negativity.  Negativity never causes anything but negative results.  With luck though, we eventually find misery intolerably unsatisfactory.

As the Dalai Lama reminds us, we all want to be happy and free, content and free to explore our potentials.  Fulfillment is desireless, no more craving and suffering.  Pursuit of desirable external objects gratifies the socialized ego with temporary pleasure.  That devolves into unsatisfactory neutral and unhappy states and worrying about losing desirable objects and experiences.  Constantly trying to avoid undesirable objects and experiences leads leads to exhaustion, discouragement, numbness and chronic unhappiness.  Trying to fake or redefine happiness and freedom can only lead to disappointment and worse.  New rounds of deficiency, craving, distress and suffering, only generate the craving for the ever more elusive opposites, pleasure and gratification.

We learn to suppress and repress awareness of the unhappiness and anxiety caused by endless rounds of inherently unfulfilling pursuits, but ego’s self secretly knows that there is no out there nor in here nor things that cause real joy and fulfillment.  Self never fully believes its own story.

Worldly happiness is fake happiness. It always changes, turning into neutral and unpleasant experiences.  Worldly freedom is fake freedom.  Routine, habit, addiction, bondage, slavery and defensive-reactive mechanisms are neither free nor conscious nor alive.

The only way to sustain fulfillment and real freedom is through being fully awake and alive to the moment of creation, the Way of Liberation and Enlightenment, sustaining unconditional awareness, pure presence and unbiased compassion.  Tibet’s great Vajraguru Padmasambhava called it creative expression.  We can call it Creative Spirituality or Atiyana, the original Way of being.  That means being free enough not to limit the infinite creativity of the universe in the present moment.  True happiness and real freedom leave no time for ego’s stories about an extinct past, a fictional future, other peoples’ fictional thoughts or deluded reactions to such stories.

Chemically induced ecstasy, wonderful stories, powerful practices, great doctrines and exotic rites seem like they might free us from our dream world, but they are somewhat like ornaments, at best.

Ornaments may be beautiful and very nice, but it might be nicer if we could drop the way of the world, the stories and dramas, negative obsessions, reactions, excess injury and suffering, and then sustain pure bliss and harmony.  Yet, nature and society program us to survive and stay addicted to the way of the world.  With a certain amount of deprogramming, retraining and on-going discipline, learning, unlearning and guidance we have a chance to blossom and thrive.  Otherwise, programming and the momentum of habit bring us down, again and again and…

Mind medicines offer some real benefit but, if anyone ever gave you the impression that learning and a strong commitment to self-discipline are unnecessary to the direct path of real freedom and contentment, don’t believe it.

Buddha once said, “Conquering oneself is a greater victory than defeating thousands in battle.”

Until we master ego, we cannot sustain harmony, freedom, bliss, and limitless compassion, and we still need learning and discipline.  No plant or psychedelic mind medicine or anything else can do the ‘quick fix’ trick for us.  There is no super pill to cure an addiction to illusion, self-deception, self-frustration, and suffering that happened to a fictional self.  Until we establish ourselves with a firm footing, grounded in a transcendent conceptual framework, a new paradigm of liberation and enlightenment, we are lost.

The only way out of ego’s invisible prison of delusional mental habits is through replacing the negative habits of slavery and endarkenment with positive habits that generate true freedom and compassionate wisdom. The only way to real freedom and lasting fulfillment is through realization and appropriate response in each moment of pure presence.  That requires the infinitely open awareness and karma of enlightenment.  That takes the full use of our unlimited faculties and divine qualities, liberated through effective meditation, contemplation and, usually, some form of yoga, spiritual practice or regular devotional service.  We need to generate new neural networks in the brain, new biochemistry and response, a new way of living that supports authentic being, presence and awareness.

Osho was right about the work of meditation.  When it works, we unlearn our identification with the mind of worldly ego.  The flame of Awareness becomes a radiant sun, burning up the slavery created by worldly mind.  Keeping the inner sun shining strong, burning steadily growing is enlightenment.

Enlightenment is “seeing the light” of truth and compassionate wisdom, free of the tyranny of endarkenment, the negative habits, emotions, obsessions, beliefs and delusions of normative enslavement.

According to Seng Tsan, the 3rd Patriarch of Zen, “For those not obsessed with preference, comparing, judging, picking and choosing, the Way is neither difficult nor easy.”

When we dive into our true Dharma—the Way to ultimate freedom and Original Grace—with the intense enthusiasm and commitment of a great new love, then success, enlightenment, is easy.  We start from where we are though.  Unfortunately, worldly ego’s basic addiction requires obsessive comparison, dualism, division and difficult complications that distract our attention and limit our enthusiasm.

Without the help of an experienced guide, the power of pain, fear and habit make it far from easy to escape the World’s invisible Box. Otherwise, the world would already be enjoying a Golden Age of Heaven on Earth.

Now, if you only enjoyed wonderful trips and pleasant or amusing experiences with mind altering drugs and sacraments, you might think that you made it out of The Box.  You may wonder if this really has any personal value for you at all.

Sustaining Immunity

Psychedelics and botanical sacraments can provide some of life’s most amazingly enjoyable, memorable, meaningful and healing experiences.  Still, though some of us naturally tend to have only wonderful experiences under the influence of psychotropic substances, that in itself can be one of the most dangerous of all possible pitfalls.

How could having wonderful mind manifesting experiences be a problem?  You are not your mind, nor your mental habits, nor your thoughts or your visions, fantasies or dreams.  Mental functions are part of your being, not the whole.  Your thoughts and other mental phenomena express your identity, but what you are is far more than mentality.  Your totality is far more than the conditional mentality, memories and beliefs dreamed up by you and your world.  When you identify yourself as your mind — your mental productions reactions, perceptions, interpretations, projections, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, your psychological phenomena — however nice it seems, you accept your current level of self-imposed limitation, preventing evolution beyond what you now believe possible.

For example, if you believe in a delusion that you live in Heaven on Earth then, as long as you believe it, it will be impossible to get to Heaven.  Who would even begin to think of leaving Heaven?

Another, way to look at it is by remembering that you take medicines when you are sick and, when you recover your health, you quit taking them.  I started taking mind medicines because I suffered many unsatisfactory, disturbing, painful symptoms of existence as a worldly self, fallen far from Original Grace.  I then started believing in an improved self that seemed to need to keep taking the medicine to stay happy and well.  Then what happened?  Well, that self did not recover Original Grace nor freedom from suffering.

As long as we believe that we need the help of medicines and external substances to be basically happy, free or well, then we are not really well and we will not generate sustainable health and happiness or the causes.  That will never help us fully recover the original way of being what we really are, which is what everyone wants, which is far beyond the power of any material medicine.  The world’s inherent tendency to suppress, subvert, pervert, combat, corrupt and exploit our positive qualities, tendencies, activities and relations, reinforces ego’s worst causes of suffering, making mind medicines ineffective for a sustainable cure.

Luckily, pure Presence is more than adequate to keeping us basically happy and well.  To enjoy lasting contentment, the basic bliss of being, we only need to foster, cultivate, nurture and protect the cause and the results.  Caring about and for our own karma, our relations, our interactions and results is important not only for ego’s self, but for all our loved ones, all living beings and all future generations.  The quality of each human life affects the quality of all other lives and conditions, in many ways, far beyond our ability to know the total outcome.  In fact, the total outcome is as infinite as the evolution of the universe, because it is inseparable from the creation of universal presence.  Not being aware of most of that does not make it unreal or make your contribution to the quality of life unimportant.  Nor does it mean that you will be able to ignore the truth after the moment called death.

Some mind medicines or the way they are used can be very harmful, not to everyone all the time, but to some, at least, at some times.  Often, the use overuse or abuse of mind medicines is very harmful not only to oneself, but to the loved ones, to friends, our communities and our whole culture.   Inappropriate use of mind medicine is usually part of a pattern of self-abuse and/or self-neglect that leads to or aggravates many other patterns of destructive negligence including ecocidal mania.  Since most of us are creatures of habit, learning by imitation and repetition, it is wise to consider the possible Big Picture consequences.

When the ego’s false self and the world lose control over the body and mind, our mental and physical processes, then the momentum of our karmic energy takes over.

Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just is.  That is as true of mental-emotional energy as it is of any other form of energy.  Each of our actions of body, speech and mind impact the whole field of universal energy, like pebbles thrown into an infinite pond.  We are not separate from the field of energy we call the universe of things and beings.  Mind medicine can help us get a direct experience or glimpse of this infinite, living ocean of energy, but enough is enough.  Too much is too much, not only for one self, and not only for one lifetime.

Allegedly, the Apostle Paul once said that, in the Kingdom of Heaven all activities are permissable, but not all are expedient.  In other words, with compassion for ourselves and others, we can make decisions for the best possible results, for one and all.

Some mind medicines are more powerful or dangerous than others, some are illegal, and that often causes severe consequences that ruin lives and families for generations.

Since the subject is so subject to potentially dangerous misinterpretation, wild flights of fantasy, misconception and misinterpretation, very few Tibetan Lamas will discuss mind medicines, and then only rarely.  The mind medicine that they recommend most highly is appropriate spiritual practice and a true spiritual friend, an enlightened teacher or coach.  Native shamans recommend living a sacred life in harmony with nature, spirit and the tribe.  That way is sacred to the tribe.  The best modern counselors and psychotherapists use a blend of ancient and modern strategies and techniques for fostering the same basic ways, means and results.  If your life is unsatisfactory and you want the alternative, then what you really want and need is relief and restoration, not temporary substitutes.

Remember, since you are it, you deserve the real thing and the best help available for returning to it.

Sustaining Presence & Awareness

The lack or loss of pure presence causes loss or supression of joy, faith, love, peace and harmony, degrading our quality of life, our relationships, our behavior, communication, perceptions, thoughts and attitudes, trapping us in seemingly endless cycles of abusive patterns, reinforced by the Culture of Addiction.  As long as the addict is actively committed, the 12 Step programs succeed by counteracting the influences and rituals of the addictive lifestyle.  No 12 Step program deals with all the addictions or the root causes of the Culture of Addiction.  Some former attendees dropped out because they realized that AA and NA work as a substitute addiction, enabling addictive personalities to get by with weekly meetings, cigarettes, coffee and sugar.  For some addicts, AA and NA support relationship addictions by default, undermining full psychic integrity, total self-honesty, self-reliance and the confidence required for healthy interdependence and transcendent relatedness.

There are numerous stories of curing addiction with primitive shamanic use of African Iboga and case histories of successful clinical use of synthetic ibogaine by clients of gifted therapists.  In both settings, the root causes of addiction are cut, recognised and released.  Yet, without an expensive trip to Africa or to an offshore ibogaine clinic, you can do the same without ingesting herbal or chemical mind medicines.

Essentially, the root problem is the Double Delusion, being confused about illusion.  We then compound it with lots of ineffctive, inappropriate beliefs, decisions, behaviors and delusional, toxic relationships.

Only the ancient art and science of supreme being allows us to rehabilitate deluded ego’s mistaken identity, by retraining the brain, permitting a whole life makeover.  For some, that may look like going native, full time. It might look like becoming a disciple of an enlightened guru, doing advanced yoga and meditation, or long-term Buddhist practice, or becoming a monk or a nun.  Some imagine it as losing identity, purpose, meaning, family, friends and a reason to live. 
For some, during the early phases, it may take regular sessions with a gifted counselor or therapist, with or without mind medicines.

Two of Sahaja’s favorite modes are variations on the Tantric Buddhist practices known as Chöd and Tonglen.

Chöd is a ritual offering of the practitioner’s body, visualizing a feast to appease demons, devils, vampires, hell beings and hungry ghosts who would otherwise afflict sentient beings.  Doing it many times, with great realism, helps us overcome stinginess, attachment to bodies, fear of death, and so on.  Milarepa Rinpoche said that we should do Chöd constantly for a long time, while doing whatever else.  For the ultimate benefit, we can visualize all the negative beings being so satisfied and happy that they spontaneously turn into enlightened beings, guardians, angels, guides, yogis and yoginis, who become our loyal helpers and informants. 

Tonglen, sending and receiving, is a ritual visualization for breathing in all the bad karma, stupidity, negativity, pain and suffering in all worlds, receiving and transmuting it in the Heart Chakra.  Then one sends out supreme compassion and all other divine qualities as white light, entering the heart’s of all sentient beings, establishing them in the ultimate bliss of perfect enlightenment.  Now, you can visualize any negative or stupid event, action, word or thought as a dark heap or ball, beginning to smolder and shrink, all the evil and toxic insanity going up in black smoke.  As we breathe the black smoke into a blazing sun in our heart center, the negative qualities are turned into golden healing energy that fills the whole body, then shines on out to the whole universe, healing all beings of those burned up evils.

Such practices may seem too fantastic to have any practical effect or real benefit, but if they are practiced with great desire and intensity, repeatedly, then that changes the brain and your life.  Gradually, you  will start encountering less negativity and start enacting enlightened activity, embodying perfect grace and compassionate wisdom ever more naturally and more constantly.  Remember, to the brain, a vivid dream or intensely realistic fantasy is as real as any normal experience.

The only way you overcome the bad habit of deluded ego’s “MY way” is replacing it with the good habit of living The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Whichever course is best for you, ultimate healing and liberation come of restoring your faith, trust and confidence in nature, in your own nature and in your own potentials and capabilities.  If you keep finding yourself in situations showing you that you need expert help, then go find the best expert, commit yourself to enthusiastic cooperation and the best outcome. Once you make that commitment, you can then follow through, sustainably, to the ultimate result.

On the way to the result, your life will change.  You will drop your belief in your old story about what you thought was your life, your world and everybody else you thought was in it.  You will realize that it was not what it seemed and start discovering, exploring, appreciating and enjoying what it is, as is.  You will rise in love with it, stop fighting it, hating it, fearing it, judging it, and start healing it.  In fact, you start healing the world as soon as you see ego’s false identity for what it is and quit being a slave of The World, the Culture of Addiction.  You are then free to shower everything and everyone with loving devotion, serene bliss, limitless compassion and, as needed, crazy wisdom.

I wish you ultimate success, health, serenity, and bliss, because you deserve them.  I also wish you all the causes of ultimate happiness and freedom, which are all within you in the miracle of presence and nowhere else.  I pray that you appreciate and enjoy this miracle of infinite creation as fully as possible, with your own pure, unaltered awareness, intelligence, senses and body.  I wish that you never separate from the cause of serene bliss, remaining totally separated from excess pain, deluded suffering and the causes of suffering.  I wish the best of all possible lives for you.  I wish that these wishes generate supreme compassion, freedom, happiness and greater quality of life for all beings.  I am also grateful for the awareness that these loving wishes, intentions and feelings are accomplishing the intended results.

May you seek and receive any help you need for returning to your original perfection and sustaining it, infinitely, from now on.

Sahaja Bazrakara