Before the last online Dave Oshana event, we received the orientation, which included a number of questions:
What irritates you?
What disturbs you?
What irritates others?
What disturbs others?
Which methods have you tried to resolve the above issues?
Does any method work 100%, all of the time? Why (or not)? How?
How do you react when disturbed?
How do others react when disturbed?
Notice and explore the sensations when you cannot get away from them.
Shake, brush and wash off any disturbed feelings from the above explorations.
As it happened, I became irritated twice in succession immediately before re-reading these questions, just before the meet began. The first irritation has a large marital (and martial!) dynamic behind it, so nuff said on that one. The second was minor but typical: I was looking for a Pauline Kael book and could not find it, even though I could have sworn I brought it to Canada along with most of my other Kael books. At a certain point, realizing the futility of my search, and that my exasperation was growing into outrage, I relinquished my struggle and accepted reality: either the book never made it to Canada, or it had vanished, in the unfathomable manner of so many of my socks.
The upside was that it was now easy for me to zero in on an answer to the question, “What irritates you?” In a word, it is not getting my way: the feeling of being blocked or thwarted, whether by personal or impersonal forces, or both (it always feels personal). This can range from the smallest inconvenience to the largest, though generally small ones are more irritating, unless you count a spouse as a major inconvenience (joke for married people). The subsequent questions didn’t give rise to such easy, spontaneous answers.
All the Wrong Moves
There were a number of newcomers on this last event, including possible first-timers; as a partial result of this, it was more class-like than usual. At the same time, it was an excellent “class,” a kind of essential primer for what’s known, in more conventional circles, as “the spiritual path,” and/or individuatory work/personal growth. It would be a mistake, an easy and I think common one judging by feedback I have received, to think that, just because Dave is talking about basic, fundamental stuff that might seem all-too obvious or familiar, he is keeping to a beginner’s level. As Tyler D. said: you decide your own level of involvement.
The focus of this meet was breaking through the barrier of subterfuge and obfuscation, getting past the iron curtain of our original wound. Keeping to the ostensible subject, “Zero Point Return: The Time Before the Original Wound,” Dave talked of the many erroneous ways we attempt to get to the zero point, whether through drugs, alcohol, or a myriad of other self-destructive behaviors.
There is a continuum of folly and excess in my own life, whether overtly nihilistic self-destruction by heroin overdose as in the case of my brother and brother-in-law, the softer, slower burn-out of alcoholism of both my parents, or the more upwardly mobile “heaven-storming” of entheogen use, as in my own case. As wide a spectrum as this is, the drive—to get to zero—and the result—the unconscious plundering of the life force—would seem essentially the same.
As Dave put it, when we are born into a culture that tells us we are not good enough, a never-ending wound of rejection becomes our driving incentive in life, and potentially ensures we never reach any kind of peaceful station. Dave’s path was entirely drug free, yet his own early spiritual seeking, including yoga and meditation at the age of five, was like the flip side of the same plug nickel, sourced in the many disciplines of “desire-reduction” (as opposed to desire inflammation in the more licentious path taken by my family). What both approaches share is the drive to reduce the oppression of the self and all its discomforts to zero.
The Gulag Within
A Dave aphorism: If you haven’t got into any trouble today, then you probably haven’t been 100% honest in your interactions (assuming you had any).
We humans are in a state of constant disturbance. We are continuously wondering who we should ostracize next in order to make our lives more peaceful and stress-free. Parents disown their children, children disown their parents, spouses disown each other, friends fall out. My brother, for example, was continuously falling out with me, and if he didn’t fall out with our sister or mother nearly so often, it was only because they obediently learned how not to displease him. He used to complain: “Being with family makes me feel vulnerable.” The reason wealthy and famous people are generally insufferable is that they have the luxury of avoiding vulnerability by surrounding themselves by “yes-people.”
You may also know someone in your life who can’t hear even the mildest thing without being triggered—for whom just about everything has potentially critical associations. You may even be that person sometimes. But you may also know that, if no one risks upsetting them (or you), they will never have a chance to resolve those internal issues.
Dave has been described by some participants (including by me) as provocative. He suggested today that it was not intentional on his part, but rather the result of his not backing away when someone starts to give off signs of discomfort. When a doctor wants to take out a splinter, the patient may flinch or struggle. The doctor has to be firm and press on regardless. His intent is not to provoke or disturb, but to remove the original source of discomfort.
When people pretend to be happy to keep up appearances, they are investing in a façade and that façade requires others to invest in it too. But the façade will eventually collapse, because there is tension and resistance in the apparent contentment. Peace in such a land depends on a state of constant inner propaganda, a totalitarian regime that sends all dissident parts off to the gulag, to be thought-reformed.
The inhabitants are thus controlled by the desire to censor, suppress, or disown the parts of them that makes them honest, and/or any feelings or thoughts that might get them into trouble, if they should ever dare to express themselves freely.
The Drone of the Wound
- People are annoying.
- An unfortunate chemical reaction occurs when we get close to some people.
The human race is made up of 7.8 billion festering wounds. It is a state of constant collective irritation from unwelcome internal sensations.
A sonic deterrent device became popular in the 2000s as a means to discourage teenagers from entering places of business or gathering in groups. It was allegedly invented in Wales but has since become popular in North America. It is sold online as “an anti-loitering device”:
Many cities, municipalities, school districts, and parks boards use the Mosquito to combat vandalism. The patented Mosquito is a small speaker that produces a high frequency sound much like the buzzing of the insect it’s named after. This high frequency can be heard by young people 13 to 25 years old. The latest version of the Mosquito is called the MK4 Multi-Age. It has two different settings one for teenagers 13 – 25 years and one setting for all ages.
The original wound is similar in its effects. It is as if there is an irritating noise, like a mosquito’s whine, that arises inside us whenever someone says something we don’t want to hear. Over time, we may come to associate the unpleasant sound, that internal sensation of discomfort, with any voice that delivers truths we do not want to hear. And so we say, “That person is infuriating!!”
(I will add my own proviso to the above: This doesn’t mean that anyone who annoys me is speaking the truth, or even that anyone who speaks the truth will annoy me. But there is an overlap, and when I am annoyed by someone, it is usually worth looking at my own internal responses, rather than simply banishing or avoiding the source of irritation.)
In all of our heads, there is the constant drone of an original wound. Listen closely.
Theory of a Bird’s Mind
Dave compared this noise to the overlay filter of the mind: when we are in a depressed state, for example, even when we are surrounded by beautiful nature, we may imagine the birds around us are depressed, that they are moaning, “Why do we have to build nests?! It’s a bad investment!” The noise of original wound is infecting our experience of being open and at peace. Zero point entails reducing that noise, that overlay, to nothing.
This reminds me of an experience I had on the island in Finland during a retreat. I was gazing at the sea in the morning, when I became aware of small white and black birds flitting between the trees beside me. I felt that they were communicating directly to me. I sensed that they were in a state of confusion and distress because of what was happening on the planet, the invasive technology and the creeping darkness of human pathology. I felt sorrow for the birds, in what I imagined to be their primitive state of confusion, as if their instincts weren’t equipped to comprehend what was happening. I sent them my reassurance and love. As I did so, something switched and I began to feel that I had got in backwards: the birds were tuning into my confusion and distress, singing their reassurances to me.
Dave recalls being a youth, approaching a gang of youths on the pavement in East London. A number of strategies come to mind, all sourced in young Dave’s anticipatory concern. Putting too much energy into it, imagining potential scenarios, increases the tension in his body, like pulling a pendulum up high to get ready to let it go. Nothing has even happened yet, it’s all on the inside, as he readies his internal defense lawyers and PR agents for a good piece of repartee. But the readiness may only increase the chances of an incident. If we start carrying a weapon around wherever we go, it creates a martial atmosphere, signaling to others to follow suit. We grow increasingly wound-up, ready to strike at the slightest provocation—or to be provoked by the slightest threat of intimacy.
Like a self-winding watch, there is a pendulum inside us that swings back and forth between extremes. If we react to the negative stimuli, we perpetuate the discord, creating a perpetual motion machine inside us. We pull one way, and then swing the other way, picking up kinetic energy as we go.
When we are caught up in the symptoms of distress—wound-up tight—muscle tone becomes more tense, we feel throbbing in our pulse points, our eyes start squinting, our tongue is getting dry, our belly has butterflies in it, our legs start to feel hollow. When we feel these symptoms, it is time to attenuate: to reduce the noise internally. Otherwise, the pendulum will keep rising higher and will eventually come down on someone, or on ourselves. It takes time for the oscillation to die down and that requires a cessation of reactivity.
This is not just a physical charge that needs to dissipate, not just hormones pumping or muscles tensing. It is the movement of our minds, which continuously oscillate to the left or the right, like a pendulum, into imaginary theaters of conflict.
Why Words Will Never Cut It
On this last Sunday event, Dave Oshana riffed for 2-3 minutes in a way that I felt fully captured, in words, exactly why words will never cut it:
The original wound is a resentment that has been passed on through every human generation. There isn’t a generation missing. The original wound is something that has been passed on through every human being. It’s something that lives inside the eggs, inside the grandmother that gets passed on to the fetus or her daughter, that will eventually create the eggs of the grandchild. It’s in the blood, it’s in the genetics, it’s a fear, it’s a terror, it’s a disturbance. It’s like a hideous disturbing noise that causes fear and terror inside the body and stops a person from feeling stable, safe, and secure. It’s pre-cognitive, it’s non-cognitive, it cannot be addressed by talking, it cannot be addressed by thinking or philosophizing, it cannot be addressed by any kind of mental process. It has to be sensed.
The mind can help to direct or keep you on track or can stay out of the picture. But you cannot get at this sound by talking about it. You cannot change it by talking about it. Where people have gone wrong is they have invested in their talking, they have invested in their thinking, they have invested in problem solving, invested in experts and people with status and philosophical concepts and religious concepts, and they have not produced any solution. They have given delay, procrastination, pacification, distraction, but they have not got rid of the noise that is the original wound, that is in the chemistry and in the nervous system of the body.
This noise nullifies the harmonious music of the neurons.
360° of Separation
While Dave was speaking of the noise of the original wound (and I was thinking of the discordant drone that has become so popular on movie soundtracks lately), my wife made a comment, “A brown mud from badly mixed paints.”
For some reason, I was reminded of a segment from Answer to Lucifer I came upon recently:
The dream went on a long time. It was not a dream so much as a state of consciousness, an awareness that I was obliged to experience. It seemed at the time to be the only state of awareness possible. I wept and wept, until finally it gave way to the new state. I experienced a realization.
The Devil was a Wind. Or rather, one aspect or degree of this Wind, was Satan. The Wind blew on all sides, from every angle, 360 degrees in all. One and only one of these degrees or directions was “the Devil.” It was when this Wind blew through one’s mind, when one’s point of view was facing directly at the Adversary, that one’s perception became purely black, negative, evil. The key was simple: once one knew where this direction was and what it felt like, make a choice, never, ever to face that way! Then devil and evil ceased to exist. They became a forgotten (not forgotten, but rejected) point of view. Joy is permitted. But first, we must override the contempt-mind.
One reason (probably not a good one) I like to include bits from my old writings is that they give me a chance to show off my intellectual chops in these Dave-ward blog posts. Another reason, perhaps a better one, is that they offer further evidence that all my intellectual knowledge about the nature of what has been tormenting me, throughout my life, has not helped me find inner peace—even when it included a “solution” (such as never ever face in the direction of evil again!).
The lesson, one at least, is that intellectuality does not lead to happiness, or even help much with it. As an adolescent, I formulated this understanding as “Only stupid people are happy”—thereby making happiness an unworthy goal for one such as I. This might give a clue as to how cunning the trauma-generated identity can be.
Taos Hums & Jesus Solutions
The noise of original wound drives people crazy, said Dave. “Wasn’t there a movie about that?” I asked my wife (i.e., a weird sound wave that caused people to go insane). She thought there were a few, and suggested The Signal as one. A quick search (today) didn’t bring any movies up but it offered a real-life example instead, from as mainstream a source as could be (NBC): “Mysterious hum driving people crazy around the world.”
Only about 2 percent of the people living in any given Hum-prone area can hear the sound, and most of them are ages 55 to 70. . . . And the Hum has driven virtually every one of them to the point of despair. “It’s a kind of torture; sometimes, you just want to scream,” retiree Katie Jacques of Leeds, England, told the BBC. Leeds is one of several places in Great Britain where the Hum has recently appeared. “It’s worst at night,” Jacques said. “It’s hard to get off to sleep because I hear this throbbing sound in the background. … You’re tossing and turning, and you get more and more agitated about it.” Being dismissed as crackpots or whiners only exacerbates the distress for these complainants, most of whom have perfectly normal hearing. Sufferers complain of headaches, nausea, dizziness, nosebleeds and sleep disturbances. At least one suicide in the United Kingdom has been blamed on the Hum.
One of the locations of the mysterious hum listed is Taos, New Mexico: the place I tried to set up a community, before the bottom fell rudely out of my world and I vanished to Morocco. Coincidence?
A dissociative identity arises through the urge to escape from bodily discomfort. When you have faulty hardware, the software will soon start to malfunction too. In this lies the secret to how we create our own hells. It is similar to how candy floss is made: negative thoughts, feelings, sensations, and associations cluster together to form a sticky cloud. Dave makes clear that it is not the noise itself but the reaction to it that perpetuates the conflict and chaos. Reacting means we do not realize we are reacting, but believe we are acting of our own volition, in a conscious and justified manner.
“The Jesus solution,” said my wife at that point. She was referring to the “open heart policy” propounded by Joseph Chilton Pearce, Rene Girard, and others. Including, of course, Jesus.
“Turn the other cheek. Resist not evil.”
The latter phrase from the gospel appears to be so unpopular, even among Christians, that when I recently did a Google image search for these words, one of my own recent tweets came up! (Or maybe it was AI-narcissism-feeding algorithms at work?)
Scratching a mosquito bite only stirs up the poison and causes the bite to become enflamed. Refrain from scratching for the first few minutes, and it will not flare up.
Not reacting allows us to observe the effects inside us that are driving us to react. This then nullifies those effects. We can then separate the elements of the discordant dirge into neutral components. Unmix the brown mud paint on our palette and restore the primal hues.
Face, feel, and follow the uncomfortable sensations into the place before the original wound, into the grounding station of the body.
The zero point is the end result of shrinking the sensation of reactivity within us to zero. It can begin with a simple proposition: imagine there is no one there to react.
We pay attention to our identities rather than to our bodies. Zero point means reversing that ratio. It means not swinging into reactivity, letting the pendulum exhaust its momentum and come to a stop. The shrinking in question is of the fake identity or residual self-image.It is not the actual living being that is reduced, but the part of the system that identifies with what is happening, that has no tangible reality.
When we shrink that sticky cloud of residual self-imagery, there is nothing to react to adverse effects or sensations, nothing for those negative stimuli to stick to. When the candy floss stops spinning, it ceases to grow and begins to dissolve. When there is nothing left within us to react, there is no more oscillation.
Stillness follows after. The hum ceases to torment us. There is peace in our Taos.
 If our internal senses are always drawn to our original wound but never beyond it; if we are forever reacting to the wound and attempting to make the discomfort less; we may try to reduce our personalities, our thinking, feeling, emotions, and reactivity, just to find relief from the endless oscillation between the pull of the wound and repulsion of it.
The next Oshana Online Event is “Healing the Mother of All Wounds,”