In a recent email from Dave (the one about the rabbit hole), he mentioned red herrings. Red herrings have been coming up a lot ever since the winter 2020 retreat (including in my last podcast with Martin Jolly), so I made a joke: maybe we can create a market niche for red herring juice, I said; they must be good for something.
Dave didn’t get the joke so I added serious context: what if this idea of red herrings becomes a red herring?
He still professed not to get it, so I unpacked it all the way:
The mind can turn anything into a red herring, I guess is my point.
Dave concurred and suggested we keep an eye out for examples.
All the Wrong Moves
This last two-part blogpost feels risky as hell. Not that the others haven’t, but now I am going back into a particular area of my past and—since if I don’t suspend disbelief there’s no suspense—I am consciously letting myself fall under that old sorcery spell again. Worse, I am risking drawing others into it. Icarus is playing with fire while gazing at the pool of dried wax and the pile of feathers, thinking, Hmmm; maybe I can make it work this time…?
So what’s my motivation?
To go back over those old tales of power to see how well I have let go of investments in that sorcerer’s story? And if so, can I reclaim the essence of them, the true meaning underneath the crust of the story that I missed the first time around?
There are those who will read passages cannibalized from past emissions, and feel at once that something essential is missing from that voice. At the same time, because what is missing is something subtle, others may not notice the discrepancy so easily. What’s missing is an element that’s far less compatible with storytelling, to tales of power, and hence more precious and ineffable. If you missed that it was missing, don’t feel bad. I did too, all those years ago. I created a facsimile of enlightenment out of a combination of essential experience with my mind’s elaborations. I constructed a fortress of knowledge.
Here’s what I think about that time now: part of me made it, while other, equally essential parts were left behind. Leave no man behind means I am compelled to return to the war zone, to gather the lost body parts back to me, even if it means I risk getting lost or shot down all over again. No self-respecting shepherd would do any less.
In the same way, there may be readers or listeners who felt deep resonance with those accounts, now or back then, who identify with a sorcerer’s war stories and don’t trust talk of peace or enlightened embodiment, because they still carry the ravages of war inside them. Maybe they feel abandoned, betrayed, or confused and annoyed at my abandoning Hell in order to live in Hope?
I am hoping that revisiting this material is a way to bring, not only the parts of my own soul, but also soul fragments outside of me— out of the cold and into the warmth, back into the present moment, where home fires are burning. That it is a way to bring lost sheep back into the fold.
Spirit Enters Through a Wound
On Sunday’s online Dave Oshana Easter event, “Thank God It’s Sunday! An Enlightenment Transmission Easter Weekend Unlike No Other,” Morpheus told Neo:
Your identity comes and goes all the time. Just as when you deep-dream, you are continuously entering into a state where your identity is not with you. Though I am talking to you like you are a person, really I am talking to the gaps between, when your identity is offline.
From Jake’s dream journal, April 10, 2002:
Fragment. I am with Don Juan [Matus, from Castaneda’s books], learning, maybe even at a computer. I am aware that I do not know who I am. I have no personal memories at all, no personal history. There’s no panic or confusion in this. I know, or Juan explains, that this is the optimum state for me to receive his teachings, that without the burdensome baggage of personal memories, ideas and thoughts about self, I am almost infinitely more open and powerful (aware) as an individual. Yet I don’t feel like a God or anything. It’s peculiar. Carlos never wrote about memories of the other self in which he had no memory of who he was. Usually the opposite is the case: in the other self one remembers everything. In this state I remembered nothing, yet I was somehow vastly greater, or at least purer, as a result. Like being a baby, perhaps?
Morpheus told Neo:
This is why I am loathe to give you advice, because you are already carrying a lifetime’s burden of lifestyle advice. And because in the end, you cannot depend on any teaching, no matter how true, only on the life force. The same applies with your identity; a time will come when you can no longer rely on it.
You might hear advice from Jesus, or from God; but if you hear it from a human being, the Babel effect will turn it into something false.
Take Jesus. He has become in death a receptacle for people’s pain and longing.
There is no physical salvation for us, but there is spiritual salvation. We connect to loved ones when they die, without realizing that the connection we feel with them after death also exists while they are alive, but we don’t utilize it.
To the average Christian, who celebrates the resurrection but skips over the anguish, betrayal, trial, torture, humiliation, and death of Jesus, the agony of his loved ones (which Jesus would also have felt), it is as if Jesus made no sacrifice at all. He was God: “Just set your watch & I’ll be back in 72 hours.” They skip over the pain of love, and ignore the agony of (human) nature.
Can I Be Saved?
Before enlightenment, Morpheus told Neo, I had a full deck of identity variations: 52 shades of Dave. Then all the cards were scattered to the wind.
Death is in the repeats; living life is constantly being in suspense, because nothing ever repeats.
Raw honesty undermines the identity because the identity is a lie. Essence is to love anyone, regardless of what they can do for you. It is connection to deepest reality.
Our language is broken; it is purposed so that we cannot talk to each other. We have been engineered so we cannot communicate: all our concepts about how to live together have been sabotaged. All the tools we have been given to find freedom ensure we never find it. If you are struggling, you will not find relief, because struggling is a way to stay out of the red zone of discomfort. There is a life of struggle, but is there a life of alignment with who you are?
Your life may have been about trying to save people, but can you really save anyone?
A question that used to haunt me and maybe still does. This is from the introduction to Answer to Lucifer, my unpublished “vampire’s confessional memoir,” started in 2005, “un-completed” in 2007.
Among many other things I dismissed as erroneous or deluded, I have never believed it was possible to save another person. In fact, for at least half of my life (the same half I neglected vampires as a real possibility), I did not really acknowledge the possibility, or the necessity, of being saved. Such Christian terminology was worse than meaningless to me.
Even in the everyday, conversational sense (such as when we talk about “facing our demons” without ever having to crack open The Necronomicon), so far as people need “saving,” from drugs or alcohol, heartbreak or despair, misery or marriage or their own damned ignorance (in the sense we all need saving), it was axiomatic to me that no one could save anyone who wasn’t already willing to be saved. (Maybe the need to believe in a savior outside of ourselves is what makes Christianity so popular? Another question, another thesis.)
I still believe that no one can save anyone else. But, over the years, I have come to qualify this, a footnote, if you will, amending my basic belief. No one can save anyone else, but it is possible to lead someone to a place where they might save themselves. It is possible to lead another to that place. It is possible to lead another. It is possible to lead. It is possible.
I guess I wrote those lines the same year I met Dave. I wasn’t looking for a leader and Dave wasn’t looking to lead. But even so, I found myself following something. Not Dave, but something.
Many years later, in 2018, I wrote a number of aphorisms for our communal newsletter, including this one: Learn to discern the difference between those who are intentionally leading and those who are simply moving forward visibly.
Dave is moving forward visibly. All his intentional efforts to lead are tricks to get me to stop referring to an external authority and check in with the life force and where it is going—all but imperceptibly.
Morpheus said to Neo:
If a soul came to this planet to do something, and you tried to help them follow a distraction from their purpose, then you aren’t helping them. If you get close to me, I will make you aware of the pain that you have blocked from your awareness.
Dave certainly did that. I aim to do the same.
What did Jesus really come to do?
And Morpheus told Neo:
Adam and Eve received three blessings: be fruitful, multiply, have dominion over the earth.
For a tree to be fruitful means that all the parts—trunk, branches, leaves—must work together. Our bodies have wire around them, like bonsai trees, preventing their natural growth. So our bodies are full of gaps that the life force hasn’t been able to fill. This allows other stuff to enter into those gaps.
[Waking up the dormant parts of the body so the life force can move in and push out the other stuff entails becoming aware of our pain.]
To multiply means the original image of God, of man and woman coming together, is multiplied, so the spirt of God has many bodies to move into.
Dominion over the earth means having a good, symbiotic relationship with Nature. When the unity between spirit and body is damaged, we become unfruitful. Enlightenment is the restoration of unity between spirit and body.
An apple tree that doesn’t bring forth apples is an apple tree only in essence, not in actuality.
When the image that multiplies is corrupted, imperfect, that imperfection also multiplies, and the relationship with Nature is sabotaged.
The serpent in the garden is the saboteur: snake venom infects the blood and causes dizziness, nausea, pressure in the head and body, so we can’t think clearly; we become “out of sorts.” The disharmony of the serpent seed is in everyone’s blood. It has to manifest itself.
What vibrates in the blood? How does the blood create semen and eggs? How does that vibration translate into the child?
The life of Jesus is about how he managed not to react in ancestrally unfavorable ways.
The essence of Jesus’ spiritual victory was that he offered no resistance to evil.
Me & Existence
Morpheus said to Neo (last Sunday):
There is just you and existence and you are trying to make sense of it.
The belief that everything will turn out right if you believe it will is just a belief; it is like a child who closes its eyes and holds its breath to try and change the way the world is.
Neo thinks, This reminds me of me, in the years, months, and daze leading up to Being the One: The Fiasco. (Or Matrix Reloaded, take your pick.) I believed myself to be a pure fool, like Parsifal, and that my innocence protected me while at the same time meant I was not answerable to any laws besides the Higher Law. I had, you might say, a fantastic idea of my own impeccability, that even when I made mistakes, my heart was always in the right place. If ignorance was no excuse in the eyes of the law, innocence surely was.
On the other hand, though I rushed in countless times where angels fear to tread, and came many a cropper, I was also surprised by how others (including Mitch and Dave) sometimes assumed, or projected, a sort of calculation, deviousness, or guile on my part that (rightly or wrongly) I felt myself to be incapable of. Perhaps there really was something about “Jake”?
At the beginning of the end of that period, when Matrix Reloaded had come out and I had seen the writing on the wall, Mitch laughed at how awful the movie was: “They did that for you, Jacob,” he joked. Then he read the writing to me: “If everyone’s the One, no one’s the One.”
I believe it was that same night that Mitch also said five words that pretty much say it all:
“It’s just you and it, Jacob.”
One Tiny Seed of Damnation
Morpheus asked Neo:
What if your life force energy is going into the wrong investment?
Imagine a saint sworn to celibacy, or to only give his seed in divinely ordained marriage, who is approached by an unscrupulous entrepreneur who wants to harvest that seed for his own plans. The entrepreneur offers the saint enough cash to feed all the hungry on the planet and bring about world peace. The saint has no choice but to reject the offer. Why?
One conception that doesn’t occur in divine time is all it takes for God’s plan to come off the rails. One tiny seed, spilled at the wrong time or place, and the total effect is catastrophic.
This idea of a tiny, infinitesimal change that has consequences that are unimaginably catastrophic in scope, pervading all of reality and making it intolerable, is one that has truly haunted me from childhood on. This is from Answer to Lucifer, chapter three, “Apocalypse Now” (I have left the tortured purple prose as it was, since the medium is the message, and all that):
[A] recurring factor that pervaded my early years, coloring them with a mix of despair and deepest dread. . . involved what would doubtless be classified (and so dismissed) as “hallucinations” brought on by high fevers, which I suffered repeatedly in my youth from a variety of causes. While languishing in said state of fever, alone in my bedroom, teetering between the hitherto mutually exclusive realms of consciousness and sleep, I would dream. I dreamed things too terrible to comprehend, much less remember, and I would wake from these “dreams” to find myself in ordinary, quite identifiable reality, only with the absolute certainty that something was changed. Everything was somehow askew. Something had been altered, irrevocably and forever, something in me, perhaps, but that had now seeped into the very fabric of existence, polluting it, rendering it hostile and alien and fearful.
It was as if . . . I had been . . . shown behind the scenes, shown that reality was but a façade for our benefit, to seduce us into its intricate illusion. I would gaze upon a reality that was in every sense loathsome to me, malign and deceptive and soaked to the last atom with despair. Whatever had been revealed to me was a truth so terrible that it rendered my existence, my identity, intolerable to me. I would awaken from these fever nightmares in a state of absolute panic, a despair so intense that I was unable to even think about it, but only to react, as an animal reacts, in wild and blind terror. I would get out of bed and flee the room . . . . I would run or stagger, madly and vainly, holding my head in a woe more suited to a prophet of old than a ten-year-old boy, figuratively clawing at the walls of my prison house, seeking some way out, some way to forget . . . whatever it was that I had been shown.
[T]he despair was real, utterly and overwhelmingly real, and at the center of it was the inescapable awareness that I did not belong here, in this place, and that I was fundamentally different from other people. Even at the time I sensed this, and that the difference that so oppressed me was not merely in my mind but in the very cells of my body. For reasons unknown, perhaps even unknowable, I had been left here, in a place where I did not belong, on the edges of an intolerable nightmare, abandoned to fend for my sanity alone.
And Morpheus said to Neo:
If we can’t take discomfort, or other people’s discomfort, then we all close down. And when we contract around the provocation, then we have a world of codependent relations.
Figure out whose arsehole your finger is stuck inside: whose pollution is coming into your mind. Never stand underneath someone’s arsehole.
And Neo said, “I wish to Hell someone had told me that thirty years ago!”
Eternal Artists & Tortured Life
Martin Jolly described the combined Saturday-Sunday Easter online event as Dave’s “response” to the Jesus story and an attempt to “shock the crust off it” and reveal the deeper meanings. The deeper meanings, Dave stressed both at the start and the end of the event, are those that apply to ourselves, at a personal level, here and now.
Towards the end of the event, Dave got tangled up between the words “eternal life” and “tortured artist” (largely because I had messaged a link to “Tortured artist” at Wikipedia, since he was groping for the term earlier on.)
What a mix up! No wonder Christians have got so confused about worshipping a God who is Love who will damn them to everlasting hellfire if they don’t get right with Him! Isn’t Christ the archetypal tortured artist? Is that why my brother considered Him to be a true dandy and “a glorious revolutionary“—a man worthy of respect, even from a dedicated God-denier?
There is no concept more un-Christian than that of Hell. Radical acceptance is something Jesus, Dave Oshana, Mitch Fraas, my brother, and myself all have (or had) in common, even if we have practiced it in very different ways, with varying degrees of integrity and success (quite the spectrum, though only my brother and Jesus got crucified). My brother also slept with prostitutes, though countless more than I ever did, and of a very different class and in a very different context—albeit with a similar underlying philosophy. Take our Miracle of Sin out of the Central American slums and locate it in Los Angeles, and you end up with something like Pretty Woman. That was closer to my brother’s fantasy than mine (he even ended up partnered, unwisely, with a hooker).
I wasn’t going to write any more about this subject until Dave O disparaged it in the comments of part one of this piece. Now I will just say this: “the miracle of sin”—the shamanic project—was not about getting a hard-on with a prostitute but a much subtler and more improbable goal, that of finding love in—or bringing love to—the backstreets of Guatemala. There were no liberal-progressive or transgressive artistic illusions about how sordid and debasing sex work really is, for the worker and customer both. Just the contrary. Why did JC hang out with the underclass? There’s no greater test of our diamond essence than to go where it is most hard-pressed to shine.
The philosopher’s stone is in the dirt because the builders rejected it as a useless lump of rock. The tortured artist is struggling to find himself via an expression of angst: but what exactly is he trying to find his way back to?
The Invisible Dimension of Unexpressed Affection
The invisible dimension of unexpressed affection is what’s missing from these sorcerers’ tales of old, that gets sacrificed to Icarus’s heady quest for dizzying heights and bottomless pits. It is missing not because it’s absent, but because it has been deemphasized, overlooked, rendered dispensable. Yet without it, there is nothing but crust. A coal mine without diamonds.
How much of myself can I slip in here without it being self-serving? How fruitful is it to make of my life a “novel” for others to refer to? Someone once wrote a poem about me and called it “Archetypal Man.” Another person suggested that my life revealed a universal template, a map of incarnation: it was a life worthy of being captured in eternity.
But the thing is: all of our lives are meant to be that; and one way or another, all of our lives end up that way.
Is now a time for bold and “shameless” statements? Is it a time to take more, not less, risks?
Where do humility and honesty meet? I am a bridge between enlightenment and unenlightenment. I am here to remind you that it’s not Dave, not me, not even Jesus, but you who is the tortured artist who gives existence meaning. There is no show without you making an appearance.
Dave offers “a self-destructing Trojan Horse” of a teaching, so you can’t even find the words that made you feel this good, once they no longer echo in your ears. They may leave a vibration, but no syn-tax.
As one participant testified:
Everything you said was “written on water.” All that was left was feeling. After, I could feel the mind trying to grasp a memory (of anything) to hold onto. I am really starting to see the way it works and being OK with not knowing and operating in “flux.” There is a lot of space, and what I had thought of as emptiness now feels like potential.
So what does that make me? The guy trying to turn water into ice so he can leave his etchings upon it? (As if ice doesn’t melt in the end too.) Am I turning the residual shells I manage to capture into a construction of language and building another fortress of knowledge? Or am I a self-sacrificing lamb whose tattooed body is the Map out of Hell?
Am I the source of the anti-bodied vaccine, against pen and sword, that leads back to the true Word? Or am I just the lost sheep who discovered he was a shepherd all along—or all-in-one?
Next online Dave event: Paradise Lost, Eden Regained: The Disassociation and Return of Human Empathy