Helsinki, Midsummer, June 19th 2012
The Sorcerers’ Dead-End Path
The task of writing these reports is getting harder. Or there is more resistance in me to doing so. I may be nearing a corner, or even in the process of turning it. Jed McKenna talks about becoming an enlightenment machine. He uses the metaphor of cutting an ounce of body weight away with a knife for every day we fail to get enlightened, upping the stakes to such a degree that nothing else matters. The terminator of enlightenment. Chasing enlightenment is a madman’s task, but I have always identified with mad pursuits.
Two nights ago I had a dream. I was with Dave, who seemed younger, almost a teenager (I was too, I think). I had an old journal that my sister had dug up, from my sorcerer days, and also some mail, from family members (dead ones?). The journal described my sorcery adventures, including how I had flown in front of people. In one of the sent packages there was a post card with a picture of the night sky, with a UFO up at the top. This was a snapshot of my past also. I was comparing my fantastic personal history to Dave’s relatively ordinary one. But despite all my high adventures, Dave was enlightened and I wasn’t. I had been able to fly but so what? None of it had led to freedom.
In Castaneda’s books, he writes how don Juan describes the sorcerer’s path as a dead-end. The only purpose was to learn an alternate interpretation of reality so as to see that our ordinary interpretation was only that: an interpretation. The sorcerers’ view was just as much an interpretation as the ordinary man’s. The point was, once they were placed in juxtaposition to one another, to sneak between the two, to freedom.
Enlightenment Day (Day of the Dead Dave)
This latest extended exposure to Transmission has stirred up an awful lot in me, too much to really recount, which is why I feel such inertia at trying to make this “report.” Maybe also because, now it’s “expected” of me, it starts to feel like a duty and not a choice. Of course, it is still a choice; but choosing not to do it feels lazy and negligent; so here I am.
Tuesday, 19th June (Dave’s enlightenment day) was grey-skied but I chose to risk it and traveled [from Tallinn] without a jacket. It was raining when I got to Helsinki and I spent most of the time before the meeting (about five hours) trying, and failing, to find a used jacket (I wanted a replacement for my present ones, which are both black and a bit heavy).
Dave began the event by speaking about how he had been in the other room while everyone was hanging out. It occurred to him that he was alone in a room while everyone else was out there, being together. He spoke about a vision he’d had recently (that morning or the day before), and then made an odd comment that it was probably because I was in the country. Dave’s partner laughed but I didn’t, being too busy taking it seriously. In his vision, he had been in darkness and been aware of people around him though he couldn’t see them. He saw a slit in the darkness with light coming through it. The other people were moving closer and trying to look through the slit. I forget what he said about his vision at the time, but later on he spoke about how we had to go through that opening, into the light, even though it might seem like the mouth of burning volcano to us.
His description echoed an experience I had in Guatemala in 2000, the night after I smoked DMT (what I later called my “red pill day”). The dream-vision entailed a long series of encounters with different people from my life, as well as countless others I had no waking knowledge of. I was taking them one by one to a gaping hole in space-time and compelling them to look through it. I was showing them God’s face, the other world, infinity. There seemed thousands of these people. I believed the “hole” in reality was a physical and temporal event that existed beyond space and time, at a higher dimension of reality, like some inconceivable object.
When Dave recounted his vision, I remembered the ferocity of that “hole”—“the mouth of a burning volcano” was a pretty good description. It was a hole that I knew (at the time) I would someday have to go through; but to do so was like walking into a nuclear blast. Towards the end of the talk, Dave referred back to his vision and said how we might be trying to get a look through his “hole” but that each of us had a hole within ourselves. That was the hole we needed to find and go through. (I am paraphrasing, trying to get the essence of what I understood.)
After describing his vision, Dave talked about how odd it was that, here he was, an enlightenment teacher, celebrating his twelfth anniversary, and still he hadn’t got any of us enlightened. He started to laugh and was unable to stop laughing (though he kept on talking) for quite some time. Dave’s partner gave him a tissue to wipe away his tears.
Dave talked then about how all of our spiritual practices were only making our egos stronger by feeding them. Everything we did, he said, the ego took credit for it and got a boost from it. It wasn’t our responsibility to get enlightened because we were lost in a dream world, a nightmare. So how could we be responsible for waking ourselves up? It was his responsibility, he said, and his challenge was to try and bring our awareness a little bit out of the dream state so we could glimpse waking reality. Only then could he point out to us how there was nothing going on, nothing to be afraid of. The problem was that he couldn’t speak to our real selves, only our dream selves. If there were twenty of us in the room, he said, he was really dealing with forty of us because our real selves were in the other room [the room he had been waiting alone in?].
Pushing the ego out of the way was the teacher’s job, he explained, and it was like moving a large fridge or any heavy object: it couldn’t simply be pushed, but had to be jolted and shuddered, in little jumping movements. His job was to shake the ego till it shifted or fell apart, like Humpty dumpty. The Finns hadn’t heard of Humpy Dumpty so Dave asked me. I recited the verse. This was my one significant contribution to the meeting.
Towards the end of the talk, I began feeling more and more pressure, a mix of sadness and distress. As he often does, Dave picked up a thread he had spun in the beginning (in relation to the light-hole) and tied it up. Previously he had talked about how all of us wanted to know that we had a home to return to, a warm bed, a life; if we were to pass through that opening into the light, he said, we had to accept that we were never coming back, that we would continue moving forward, into infinity, leaving everything we knew behind.
I felt a powerful sense of sorrow, the sadness of saying goodbye to everything I knew, forever.
Ice Water in Hel (June 20th)
The following day I had a one-to-one with Dave and then we went out to dinner. During dinner, Dave remarked that I was always expecting to be judged, and, the flip side, that I was forever looking for approval or praise. It wasn’t something he was capable of, he said—seeing me or anyone in those terms—so it was “a one-way communication.” This was a very useful thing for me to hear. Another thing he said was that, if I could see how much trouble there was ahead for me on this path, I might be discouraged; but then, if I could see how many times I would be saved from drowning at the last moment, I would be willing to go forward. He acknowledged how intense this was and that it was natural to want to back away from it. (During the one-to-one, he said that working with the Transmission required rest periods, just as weight-training required time off to let the muscles recover.)
The darkest hour was before the dawn, he said, and the pain of childbirth was worst just before birth happened. But relief came with it. I have never known Dave to say what I wanted to hear, it’s not something he does. So when he does say something I need to hear, every once in a while (he said something similar before I left Guatemala), it has a much greater impact. To be reminded that there was a reason, a meaning, to the pain, and that relief was at hand—or at least, that the worse the pain becomes, the nearer the relief—was like getting ice water in Hell.
I slept over with a Finnish friend who had also attended the Enlightenment Day event. We talked a while before sleeping and he said that he knew for a fact that no one at the meeting wanted to get enlightened. I challenged his assumption, and gave a somewhat impassioned speech about my own experiences, referring to the point I had reached in my life. I said that, when I was his age, 32, I was peaking. I was convinced I was the One and about to embark on a mission to set humanity free. Now, thirteen years later, I was in a very different place.
My quest for “enlightenment,” which had only begun recently, roughly coincided with the recognition that my best efforts were not only inadequate but a complete joke. They were like a bad American comedy, starring Keanu Reeves. He laughed and seemed satisfied by my testimony. Soon after that, having complained about not being tired, he fell asleep.
I stayed awake for a while longer, gazing at blue energy forms in the dark and feeling close to something. While I lay there I decided I wanted to leave my blog [http://aeoluskephas.blogspot.com/] and start a new one, so that only the people who wanted to follow me into this new phase would be there and the rest would naturally fall away. I thought about possible names for the blog, including “The Enlightenment Protocol,” “Are You Enlightened?” and “Bearing the Light.”
The Toad (Informal meet with Dave, June 21st)
[One my third day in Helsinki, I met Dave in the same area as the day before, after he had given a one-to-one to someone else, and we had some “casual” “hang-out” time.]
The first part of our conversation was enjoyable enough. It began to go “wrong” for me when Dave started to suggest that I should quit my blog. He said that I wasn’t helping my readers by engaging with all their criticisms, that I was just watching them put their heads in the gas oven. I started to tell him that I had only just decided to leave the blog and start afresh, but he interrupted to say that I needed to learn about marketing and should get busy creating multiple blogs using different personas.
This was subject I already felt uncomfortable with, but he pointed out how the only thing consistent about my internet writing activity was how, every now and then, I quit what I was doing and changed my identity in some way. But, like the Joker, I was still the same character behind the new mask. He said that, if I created fake identities and built a series of blogs unconnected to my old activities, I could express myself freely outside the usual confines of my identity. He said once again that I needed to be like St. Paul: “all things to all men.” He pointed out that I was quite cantankerous and argumentative, like Paul. I joked that Paul had even argued with Peter, about circumcision.
The more Dave talked, the less taken I was with his idea. It wasn’t that I thought it was a bad one, or that I was having a strong emotional reaction against it. I could see it was a good enough suggestion, but I didn’t feel remotely enthusiastic about it. This made it very hard to respond to what he was saying, or even to listen. I struggled in vain to come up with intelligent contributions to the conversation, but probably everything I said had an edge of complaint or resistance to it, because at one point Dave said that I was like a “but factory”: I always came up with a “but.” He said it was something I had learned to do, as a way to feel connected and to make sure the other was still there. It was a kind of clinginess. I agreed and had even noticed recently how often I started a sentence with the word “but.”
Dave obviously noticed my lethargy and did his best to inspire me, but it was all in vain. He said I should combine attitude, writing skill, and truth. It was time to let the “monkey” out of the cage. I was too reasonable with my readers, he said, when what was needed was bluntness.
After the conversation fizzled out, we got up and began walking along the same route as the day before. Without even knowing why, I felt gloomy and oppressed, out of sorts. I had lost all my confidence. The sense of enjoyment and promise that I usually have when I am with Dave had dried up and blown away. Everything seemed gray and lifeless. I felt as though I couldn’t speak. Consciously, all I was aware of was not really enjoying being with Dave. That and a creeping despair from the sense there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
Dave asked how I’d been feeling since yesterday. He mentioned how I claimed to be insensate to the Transmission. I struggled to find words but couldn’t think of a thing to say. It was like there was nothing going on inside me at all, just numb, grey emptiness. I didn’t know what I felt; it was like I wasn’t even there. I managed to force out some feeble words about feeling blocked.
The day before, even that morning, I had been sure something significant was happening. When I was going to sleep the night before, I felt as if energy was flowing through me and around me, that I was getting closer to some sort of breakthrough. But now, just a few hours later, when Dave asked for feedback, I couldn’t say anything positive at all; all I felt was dull emptiness. That morning, I had been thinking seriously about living in Helsinki instead of Tallinn, to be closer to Dave and the others and to make a fuller commitment to the Transmission. Mentioning this now seemed worse than pointless, because I didn’t feel it anymore. I didn’t want to be in Helsinki; I didn’t want to be anywhere. I didn’t believe I was getting closer to enlightenment by being with Dave. I didn’t believe anything.
Dave asked why I was hanging out with him. I mumbled that I thought it was “my best shot.” He wanted to know more but I couldn’t come up with anything. I was trying to at least keep my senses open and observe what was going on around us. He was looking for mushrooms growing on a tree. We went to a fallen tree with some mushrooms on it, then up and over a small ridge. I was walking towards him when I realized that he had started to pee! I turned and went the other way.
As we were crossing a bridge, Dave said, “This is no laughing matter. We are walking to our deaths now!”
We came into a body to experience life, he said, but then we got here and spent all our time frittering away the time. Then we died, and were unable to experience life anymore but unable to leave it behind because we hadn’t got what we came for. (I forget exactly what he said, but it was along these lines.) I knew why he was saying it. I was wasting precious moments wallowing in some useless mood. But his words didn’t help. I couldn’t shake the awful paralysis.
A few moments later, he said this had to do with my involvement in the occult. I’d been drawn into certain circles, he said, which I was still trying to get out of. I suggested that, if I was drawn into such things, it must be a result of something in myself. He said, “Typical trauma victim.” I thought he meant that it was typical for trauma victims to be drawn into occult circles, but he meant it was typical trauma victim reasoning, to blame myself for the trouble I got into. He said that the occult world offered up false promises and tricked people into getting involved. I had been looking for genuine transcendence, perhaps, but been lured into something else.
Perhaps hearing this helped somehow because I finally found my voice and told him that what I was feeling was the worst feeling imaginable. I called it “the toad”: a paralyzing kind of self-consciousness, like losing my voice, like being unable to get into my skin or express (or even find) myself. He asked what had caused it. I said that maybe it had to do with what he’d said before, that time was precious and that there I was, on this beautiful day with him, unable to even enjoy myself.
“Ah, stage fright,” he said, and added that, from his perspective, it wasn’t really to do with anything happening now but was something more “ancient.” He corrected himself: “Maybe not ancient, but old.”
We entered a park area at that point and Dave wanted to explore it. There were little green signs in front of many of the trees, indicating their names and origins. Dave walked around investigating. I went my own way a little bit and tried to connect to the surroundings by smelling some of the leaves. I read the signs but I was barely able to tell one tree from another. I felt like something had cleared for me, at least a little bit, simply by expressing how I felt.
The next day, when I was back in Tallinn, I spoke to my sister on Skype about the experience. She reminded me of how, as a child, I had been amazingly eloquent and how everyone had been in awe of me because of it. All the adults, she said, my mother included (also my stepfather), always listened raptly whenever I spoke. I had been given a “crown of eloquence,” which she said was a terrible burden for a child to have to carry. I was crippled by that crown, because I learned early on that, if I wanted attention, I had to speak. Speaking became a way for me to experience at least some sort of connection.
Now, with his instructions to drop my writing persona, it was as if Dave was taking that away from me. If so, then perhaps it was no wonder I had lost my voice. Dave was prescribing just that: giving up my voice to the Transmission. The immediate experience of agreeing to this “sacrifice” (accepting my assignment) was that I felt unable to talk to him and experienced the terrible numbness of being disconnected, not only from him but from myself. He was taking away my “Kephas” crown to set me free of the awful prison of my identity, an identity which was defined by my intellect and my verbal/literary communication skills.
As my sister pointed out, the toad was the part that had been disowned. It was the child that couldn’t speak, couldn’t communicate, that desperately needed to be loved but that had been silenced and shut away for the eloquent “prince” to take his place and seize the crown. Now it was all topsy-turvy: the prince was a toad, and the toad was the real prince. He was the mute child that only wanted to be loved and held, who would learn whatever tricks necessary to get that attention, or at least some dim, cold approximation of it.
The grim experience I suffered through with Dave, the feeling of being so miserable, dull and empty—was it perhaps exactly the feelings I had worked so hard to keep at bay as a child? More likely, it was only the fuzzy edge of them: not the raw panic and distress but the dull dissociation and disinterest which I learned to block out that anguish?
Underneath the prince’s armor and crown was only a toad. There was never a real prince at all. Because under all that armor, the toad could never be kissed.
None of this dawned on me at the time. I spent the remainder of the day with Dave, feeling out of sorts and uncertain what I was doing there. I can only guess at the sort of space which Dave was holding that made it possible for me to go into those awful feelings, or whether he knew how his assignation would affect me. My guess is he had a clue.
By the time I got back to my small apartment in Tallinn that night, I was achy and exhausted. I thought about how good it was to get “home,” even when it was a home I’d only lived in for a couple of weeks. It was safe ground. As soon as I reached it, I had a sense of how much I had been through during my three days in “Hel” (leading up to midsummer’s night, symbolically enough).
The feeling of relief was so strong, it was as if I had passed through a trial by fire.