| Link to my new book: Preparation for a Sacred, Psychedelic Journey |
Link to my recent talk at the Gay Buddhist Fellowship: “Psychedelics on the Spiritual Path”
“Who am I?” “What am I doing here?” These are the core questions that focus attention on the spiritual path. I would add that the following questions are also worth asking, even though one could say they are essentially included in the above: “What is all this that appears outside of me?” and “What is my relationship with all that?” The latter questions bring the focus to our relatedness and responsibility to the world in which we live.
I think that if anyone sincerely asks and meditates with these questions, they will find themselves moved to take part in shifting the direction of humanity towards creating a more just and peaceful world, one in which we live in harmony with all life on Earth. In other words, there will be a shift in consciousness such that their thoughts, feelings and motivations
to act will involve a wider and more loving embrace of themselves and everyone and everything. They will care more about creating a loving, global community.
The above thoughts come from the fact that every time I experience (or even get close to) the reality of my own true nature, and tune to the essence of all that is around me, I experience compassion and goodwill. I am moved to help bring about a better world. I don’t, and can’t, arrive at that through just thinking about these questions. It is an experience that comes through spiritual practices that take me beyond my thinking mind and that I feel in my heart and body.
For many years I have believed that it is only through the wider dissemination of experientially based spiritual teachings that we will avert human caused catastrophe and create a better world. As the Dalai Lama and others have proposed, we need a spiritual or consciousness revolution. I still believe that, and it seems to me more urgent than ever.
In this light I am heartened to see that one long suppressed, even demonized, approach to spiritual awakening is surfacing in a positive way in mainstream discourse: psychedelics. This is coming about partly through carefully-worded statements from scientific researchers at university hospitals proving the effectiveness of psychedelic therapies for people with treatment resistant depression, addictions, PTSD, and other clinical problems/disorders. But contained in these reports, somewhat hidden in plain sight, is that the most successful outcomes of these treatments come primarily when the participant has what they deem to be a “spiritual or mystical experience.”
While these relatively recent government approved research findings are being reported in mainstream media, the “underground” network of guides, who have been performing psychedelic ceremonies and rituals for groups and individuals for decades, has grown to where they can no longer be ignored. Knowledge of – and participation in – these ceremonies is bursting into the mainstream and some forms of legalization are imminent. An aspect of this is the willingness of many participants, including very well respected thought leaders, to share their experiences past and present.
Among people I know, including numerous clients I see as a psychotherapist, many are exploring psychedelics with experienced guides with intentions for psychological healing and spiritual growth. I have witnessed very positive results, often breakthroughs that would involve years of therapy or meditation practice. Because of my own fairly extensive participation in similar ceremonial circles over the past 40-plus years, I am able to support their preparation for these experiences and their integration afterwards.
As the lid is lifted off of prohibition, it will be messy. There will likely be a great deal of misuse and abuse of these very powerful substances. People with very limited experience will set themselves up as guides for others. People will take what are potentially life-transforming sacred medicines and use them in recreational settings, and while some will have fun, others will have problems as a result. And there may be damaging consequences for some people for whom psychedelics are not appropriate. Corporations, especially the pharmaceutical industry, are already seeking to capitalize and control the “psychedelic renaissance.” The dominant culture will tend to desacralize, co-opt and make into a fad what could otherwise be a catalyst for a global shift towards a loving community seeking to protect and sustain all life.
Psychedelics have great promise and yet are not a panacea. They can help bring about experiences that speak deeply to the questions posed at the beginning of this writing. Yet, those benefits come only when the internal intentionality and the surrounding environment (the set and setting) are supportive of psychological and spiritual growth. Lasting change tends to come when the altered-state journey is seen as one part of a lifelong path of inner work, not a single event expected to solve one’s problems.
In light of all of the above, I’ve written and self-published a short book, Preparation for a Sacred Psychedelic Journey. In it I offer a series of suggestions for steps and practices that help one to prepare for a safe and fruitful experience. I draw from what I’ve learned over the last 40-plus years of my own explorations. If you or anyone you know is interested in embarking on such a journey, or is already actively working with these substances, I hope this book will be of value. I’ve kept the price as low as possible.
You may also be interested in the podcast recording of a talk I recently gave at the Gay Buddhist Fellowship on this theme: https://gaybuddhist.org/podcast/
Please feel free to pass this invitation on and write a review on Amazon if you like the book.
I offer my blessings for a world that honors the spiritual journey and moves towards harmony amongst humans and all life,
Here’s comments from several folks who’ve read the book:
“In the tradition and lineage of James Fadiman and Ralph Metzner, transpersonal psychotherapist Alan Levin has brought forth an indispensable guidebook for using psychotropic medicines as a vehicle for awakening.”
–Joseph Tieger – author of Lately It Occurs To Me: A Memoir of The Civil Rights Movement & The Open Road
“The entheogenic journey can help us access elemental aspects of our being and can assist us in growth. It is with proper preparation and guidance that these profound (aspects) are examined. In this book, Alan Levin shares key concepts that are necessary to get ready for the journey. A must read for those who are seeking these essential truths and deep healing.”
“I highly recommend Alan Levin’s Preparation for a Sacred Psychedelic Journey book to anyone who is planning on embarking on an altered state journey. Alan’s guidance is invaluable in helping to prepare for a safe and sacred experience. The book is well-organized and covers everything from setting intentions to creating a safe and supportive environment for your journey.
“Alan’s expertise and compassionate approach make this book an essential resource for anyone seeking to explore the potential benefits of psychedelics in a responsible and mindful way. His teachings are rooted in decades of personal experience and research, and he provides practical tools and techniques to help you navigate the journey with confidence and ease.….”
“Alan Levin provides a thorough, thoughtful, and clear guide for preparing oneself for embarking on an altered state journey. Levin’s guidance for intention setting, preparatory activities, and practices for navigating consciousness were very helpful and well-articulated.”
“This is a small but powerful book? My personal work with Alan Levin has changed my life in a safe and most profound way. I highly recommend it to anyone yearning for deeper love and peace.”
–Celeste Simone, Voice Teacher/Performance Coach/Director
Author Archives: Alan Levin
Human Kindness Inside and Outside Prison
“The world changes for the better with every act of kindness,
and for the worse with every act of cruelty.” – Bo Lozoff
I’ve heard a powerful teaching attributed to the mystic/philosopher/spiritual teacher, George Gurdjieff. It goes something like this: “A person cannot get free of a prison if he doesn’t know he’s in one.” Incarcerated men and women are reminded 24/7 that they are in a prison by the bars that limit their movement. Those of us on the outside are mostly blind to the imprisonment defined by our self-limiting beliefs and narrowed vision of reality. Who then is in a better position to do the work aimed at inner freedom?
My dear friends, Bo and Sita Lozoff, created the Prison Ashram Project in 1973 to help prisoners make their time behind bars one of spiritual awakening through yoga, meditation and a wide range of wisdom teachings from the East and West – to make their prison an ashram for their spiritual awakening. They were inspired and supported by Ram Dass and their project has grown into the largest prison ministry in the U.S. reaching tens of thousands of incarcerated men and women. It is now renamed the “Human Kindness Foundation.” In addition to ongoing letter exchanges with prisoners, they have visited and held workshops in prisons all across the country while distributing free copies of books to prisoners. The Village Voice called Bo’s book, We’re All Doing Time, “one to the 10 books everyone in the world should read” and has over half a million copies in print.
Sita Lozoff is a wise and deeply spiritual person with a warm and loving heart. She happily took a supportive role to Bo’s very dynamic leadership and teaching activities until Bo’s death in 2012. She has now stepped into a greater leadership role herself as the spiritual director of HKF and I was very happy to have a recorded conversation with her which you can now see on YouTube or listen to as a podcast (links also below).
Human Kindness Foundation, like most non-profits, depends primarily on small donor contributions and I encourage you to consider making a donation if you want to support their mission. As you know, mass incarceration in the U.S. is enormously destructive and unjust. It is inflicted disproportionately on people of color, with little benefit towards rehabilitation or restoring justice. Nonetheless, while in prison, facing the injustice of the system and the often brutal reality of life there, individuals have transformed their thinking and way of being with the help of HKF. You can see more about their projects and make a donation here: https://humankindness.org/
May all beings be free.
With love and blessings,
YouTube video of conversation with Sita: https://youtu.be/NUbD05sRsOA
Website of Human Kindness Foundation: https://humankindness.org/
From the ‘Cult of Che’ to Non-Violent Organizer
My Conversation with Mark Rudd – You Don’t Need a Weatherman
I had a conversation with my friend, Mark Rudd, ex-member of the Weather Underground. You can watch on YouTube or listen as Podcast.
I met Mark in 1968 when we were both part of a group from SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) invited to see for ourselves the Revolution taking place in Cuba. After we returned I followed as Mark became one of the leaders and spokespeople for the students taking over the Columbia University campus and shutting it down in protest of the University’s part in supporting the war in Vietnam.
Shortly after the Cuba trip, I dropped out of ‘the movement’ and my activist/agitator/organizer role at the University of Florida in Gainesville, moved to San Francisco and joined the hippie culture in Haight Ashbury. Mark, on the other hand, became part of the most radical faction of SDS that then morphed into Weatherman and then the notorious Weather Underground. He spent the years of 1970-77 living underground hiding from the FBI. This is the focus of his book, Underground – My Life in SDS and the Weathermen, published in 2009. He is, as far as I know, the only member of the Weather Underground who has publicly apologized and expressed sincere regret for the destructive activities he engaged in.
Much has been written about the violence-embracing Weather people. Two Hollywood films, “The Company You Keep,” starring Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon, and “Running on Empty,” with Judd Hirsch and River Phoenix give a somewhat nuanced but essentially sympathetic look. I also recently listened to the very well produced ten-part podcast series, “Mother Country Radicals.” It’s narrated by Zayd Dohrn who was born underground, the son of two of the leaders of the Weather Underground, Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. It offers a very interesting look into the minds of the people who chose revolutionary violence within the U.S. as a reaction to the war and militarism, and what they believed was support for the Black movement of the time.
In my conversation with Mark we cover a lot of ground. My primary question was, and is, “Why?” Why did he do it? What was behind the choices he and the others in the group made to break from the growing anti-war movement and try to build a force that would attempt to violently overthrow the United States government. And even before that, what caused him, a Jewish kid from New Jersey, to join the anti-war/civil rights movement in the first place. How did he become part of a cadre that was responsible for hundreds, perhaps thousands of bombings within the U.S..
I do want to make clear that after an incident in which three members of the WU group were killed making a bomb (that was intended to kill a large group of people), the group changed course and sought to destroy only buildings and monuments and made successful efforts to not harm any human beings. Nonetheless, Mark looks on those actions with regret and has embraced the philosophy of non-violence. His view, and I agree, is that the bombings terrorized people, did nothing to turn people against the war, and actually turned people off from involvement with the anti-war/peace movement.
So why? Several thoughts arise from Mark’s own website.
1. He talks about the romantic idealization of Che Guevara, the revolutionary who along with Fidel Castro defeated the corrupt, capitalist government of Cuba and then went on to attempt revolutionary actions in other Latin American countries. Che became a heroic idol to many young people all over the world, a feeling I shared myself for a while in those days. Mark calls it “the cult of Che,” and now looks with disdain on his erstwhile hero as “homicidal and suicidal.”
2. He recognizes there was an element of machismo in it all, an effort to overcome feelings of insecurity by asserting a powerful male image challenging the all-powerful authority of universities, governments and “the power structure.” I recall visiting the office of SDS in Chicago and seeing a large poster of Bonnie and Clyde on wall and feeling confused and a bit sick in my stomach. I thought, “am I missing something here?” Mark says it was the cult of male violence and martyrdom.
3. After Mark watched the documentary film, “Weather Underground” (2002) he found himself doing a lot of soul-searching about his actions for which he’d been carrying a lot of guilt. What finally gave him a sense of understanding and compassion for himself was this realization. The awareness of the massive violence being perpetrated by this country on the people of Vietnam and the overall injustice pervading the world, gave him a profound grief. That grief led to the rage and violence. (From my perspective as a psychotherapist, I would say it was unconscious grief which then surfaced through violence). In any case, it’s a great lesson for us all. How do we process the grief we feel about climate change, immigration issues, racial injustice, mass incarceration. How do we make that conscious so it doesn’t rise up destructively through the shadow.
In any event, all the above explanations stand in contrast to the view expressed by the characters in Phillip Roth’s novel American Pastoral. Roth grew up and writes often about the same very Jewish experience as Mark, his family leaving Newark for the all-White suburbs to get away from the influx of Black people to the city. The insular, us vs. them mindset of Jewish immigrant parents. American Pastoral is a fictional story, but based largely on real events involving the young men and women, (predominantly Jewish) of the Weather Underground. It’s told through the eyes of their parents. (Imagine their suffering). His characters view (and I sense Roth’s) is that the bombers were spoiled kids acting out like sociopaths, devoid of real human connections.
I think that characterization is unfair and incomplete in that it leaves out the genuine idealism that was certainly a big part of the picture. In our talk, Mark reflects on the difficulty, the contradictions he felt viscerally in his youth. How Black people were spoken of by his family and his growing awareness of the civil rights struggle. It was his awareness of these contradictions, even more radically manifested by the U.S. killing machine in Vietnam being justified as fighting communism, that first moved him. From that perspective, the people of the WU were highly motivated, clear-eyed witnesses of a horror with which they had not the skills or emotional maturity to respond to. They could only flail about with rage and destructiveness.
Mark believes, and I agree, that perhaps the best summary of the whole trip was in this letter written in 1987 by author, Peter Marin. I highly recommend it.
I know I’m asking for trouble by saying this, but I will anyway. Even though I do not see by any stretch a moral equivalency, understanding the inside story of WU helps me empathize with the emotional reality of the Jan. 6th insurrectionists, the MAGA reactionaries, and militia members who believe in overthrowing the government by force. No matter how foolishly, they are moved by their frustrated need to express their masculinity – a need never met healthily in a culture addicted to violence, a culture which lacks conscious rites of passage. They are also in a trance or cult-like fascinations of their idealized hero tearing down the system. They also suffer from unconscious grief at the loss of what they’ve been told is theirs and no one else’s. They too are idealists, victims of believing their own thoughts.
Understanding can be a doorway to compassion while still calling people to account for their actions.
I’ll close with this from Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodrom,
“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.”
Website of Mark Rudd: MarkRudd,com
Film: Weather Underground
Mother Country Radicals 10-part podcast
Taoism – Being One and Being With Suffering
Interview with Ken Cohen
Ken Cohen is the author of The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing and also Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing. He is the rare individual who has entered fully into these spiritual traditions, studying and honoring the lineage, language and practices with absolute integrity. It was my honor to have another chance to interview Ken for my podcast and YouTube series having previously spoken with him for my book, Crossing the Boundary: Stories of Jewish Leaders of Other Spiritual Paths.
In our conversation we cover a lot of ground and I hope you take the time to either listen to the podcast or watch the video. We begin with discussing his identity as a Jewish man as well as his being an adopted member of the Cree people. He recalls his Jewish family history that shaped much of his life’s direction even while choosing to focus his attention on two distinctly different paths: learning the Chinese language, Taoism, Qigong and Tai Chi, and finding himself adopted and trained by Native American elders in their traditional, healing arts.
In response to a wide range of questions, he offers rich teachings from a Taoist perspective as well as his views on learning from nature. In regards to the latter, he emphasizes the importance of cultivating deep knowledge and intuitive relationships with plants for healing body and mind, much of which he learned the elders.
We explore the focus of much of my own work: how the spiritual quest, (Taoist or otherwise) relates to helping relieve suffering and to activism for peace, justice and a sustainable human relationship with the world. I find what he shared to be very powerful teachings for being with our internal process when responding to the painful state of the world. Recognizing his own troubled reactions, he describes going out into nature and praying for guidance. What he received are four guidelines. He emphasizes that this is not a substitute for active work in the world, but for preserving personal, psychological and spiritual well-being in the face of injustice. (I’ve summarized them here, but hope you listen for the full explanation of this very powerful teaching.)
1.Release the injustice you experience up to Creator. Don’t return the fire.
2. Never indulge in negative thinking. That only strengthens what feeds the abuse.
3. Don’t allow even a single shell of bitterness to form around your heart.
4. Do whatever is necessary to keep your heart fully capable of receiving and giving love.
We continue on to discuss the use of psychedelic plant medicines, the use of tea as a spiritual path and the need to focus deeply with a spiritual tradition rather than diluting or mixing them haphazardly, . Ken is quite an amazing individual and I encourage you to listen to our interview and check into his books and websites to find out more about him and his teachings.
The Way of Qigong: https://www.qigonghealing.com/
Honoring the Medicine: https://www.sacredearthcircle.com/
Our conversation can be found at
And https://www.buzzsprout.com/1827447/12089957 and
You can listen to all the Crossing the Boundary interviews here:
With love and blessings,
Subtle Activism with David Nicol
“The old will disappear. Human level consciousness by itself can no longer resolve the complexities it has created.”
“We are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another.”
― Ram Dass
“Subtle activism is a bridge between the inner world of spirituality and the outer world of activism (as normally conceived) that emphasizes the potential of spiritual practice to exert a subtle but crucial form of social influence.
“We have been weaving a multi-strand planetary Web of Light as energetic support and protection for humanity and the Earth as we pass through this global crisis of initiation.”
How does the intention to wake up spiritually intersect with the intention to serve and make the world a better place?
I write this from 50 plus years of observations and personal experience with both spiritual communities and activist movements. I was initiated into the civil rights and anti-war movements as an angry young man in the Sixties. I withdrew into a disciplined spiritual group for the decade of the Seventies to find inner peace. Over the last forty years I’ve evolved through different approaches to integrating the two paths.*
For several decades now, spiritual teachers and communities have been shifting their emphasis from the individual journey of awakening or enlightenment to focusing on awareness of the inter-relatedness of life and the intention to reduce suffering and make the world a better place. This is, of course, not a new idea. It has been part of the wisdom teachings that come from almost all ancient, traditional religious or spiritual sources. We have been told, “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “You are here to heal and repair the earth.)”
But many of us in the last half century who became disenchanted with the religions of our families adopted a very individualistic notion of spirituality. We thought that if we sat and meditated or chanted or prayed long enough, we would become enlightened and that was the goal of life. Over time, those of us who were sincere and paying attention found that this pursuit of individual enlightenment was naive, unfulfilling, and ultimately not bringing about the beauty, goodness and truth we were seeking. It was not in alignment with the calling of their souls. Perhaps more importantly, it was not in keeping with Reality, wherein we are not essentially separate beings.
More and more spiritual teachers, even those whose primary focus is on “non-duality,” have been pointing attention to the need for those on a spiritual path to address the problems of the world. It is clear that the primary causes of human suffering (racial and economic injustice, poverty and hunger, the threat of nuclear war, the poisoning of the Earth, climate change and a host of related issues) stem from a terribly imbalanced collective human consciousness. Rather than simply sitting and meditating, a spiritual life means recognizing ones relationship and responsibility to these issues and the people and other life forms who are suffering.
The question then becomes how does one integrate or harmonize these seemingly opposite directions of attention. On the one hand there is the inward focus on acceptance, stillness, presence and being. On the other is the outward focus on resistance and confrontation with injustice and action to right what is wrong.
What I find most spiritual teachers suggesting is a process of alternating between the two. That is, take time to meditate or go inward to experience and merge with the refreshing flow of life energy from Source or Higher Consciousness, then participate in traditional actions of advocacy or protest, then come back to your meditation practice to recenter yourself. This provides a solution to the “burnout” often experienced in the frustrating work of political and social activism. It also helps avoid the tendency to react with anger and competition-based consciousness which are poisons that infect many activist movements. We develop the ability to take action with compassion, a loving heart, and a spirit of collaboration.
Additionallly, there is a very interesting alternative: subtle activism. This is the work advocated by David Nicol, (among others) applying the methods of spiritual practices to directly influence the currents of change in the world. I invite you to watch my recent conversation with David in which we explore his personal journey to understanding, practicing and teaching this approach. (Or if you prefer, you can listen to the podcast.) As he’s written, “Subtle activism is a bridge between the inner world of spirituality and the outer world of activism (as normally conceived) that emphasizes the potential of spiritual practice to exert a subtle but crucial form of social influence.” David elaborates the theory and practice of his ideas in his book, Subtle Activism – The Inner Dimensions of Social and planetary Transformation. He has founded several projects bringing together tens of thousands of people from all over the world for worldwide meditations dedicated to social change.
It does seem to me that the old ways of bringing about social change are very limited in our current environment of mass misinformation and polarization. The subtle activism approach, which draws from ancient understandings from indigenous spirituality and uses modern technology, may be a vital ingredient in the mix of what will bring about the necessary change in our collective human consciousness.
For more information on David’s work and ways to learn more about and participate in subtle activist projects, see: The Gaiafield Project – https://gaiafield.net/
Youtube link for interview with David Nicol: https://youtu.be/EEF0cws-pk4
Podcast link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1827447/10630045
- For those interested, a more detailed account of my life transitions is a chapter of my book, Crossing the Boundary – Stories of Jewish Leaders of Other Spiritual Paths, available on this site.
Mother Earth Speaks – Ram Dass – Subtle Activism
“I suggest, therefore, that when Mother Earth “speaks,” She is asking us to “be” more conscious about what we are doing and to use the Archetypal Energy “Harmony” as a guide for corrective actions.”
–Carroy ‘Cuf’ Ferguson
“Social engagement does not only mean taking care of hungry children in remote areas or protesting wars. It means first engaging to transform suffering right where you are, then slowly moving out from there as far as you can.”
– Sister Chan Khong, Learning True Love
“Our passage into the new era, if viable at all, is obviously extremely narrow and fraught with danger. It is as though we are undergoing a collective initiatory crisis that, like all initiations, demands that we pass a crucial test to graduate to our next level of development.”
I’m seeing a growing consensus among an – admittedly still small, but rapidly growing – number of wisdom/spiritual teachers. Put very simply, what they are saying is that spiritual growth, or awakening, is not separate from the awareness of and responsibility towards all living beings. Add to that an awareness that “living beings” includes all that is, not just human and not just what we call organic. Add also, that this responsibility involves not just outward behavior, but our attitude, thoughts, and subtle energies, which are ongoingly, inter-connected with the physical world. We are especially being drawn to recognize and appreciate in all this the life and consciousness of Mother Earth.
I recently had the honor to speak with one wisdom elder who shares this view, Dr. Carroy ‘Cuf’ Ferguson. Cuf is the first African-American to become the president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology and a full Professor and past Dean of the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts – Boston. He is the author of many books and articles exploring human consciousness as it relates to our personal and collective experiences especially involving ecology and race relations.
Our conversation is available at my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/-77pPk8GSeI
Or you can listen to the podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1827447/10257708.
In it, Cuf explains his ideas about “archetypal energies” and how they relate to our personal life experience and the planetary shifts that are moving through all of us. His ideas come from a lifelong study, starting with his experiences of racism in the South, and his experiences of spontaneous expanded consciousness. I found his thoughts very deep, refreshing and inspiring. He is also a most delightful man. My own introduction to his work came from finding an article in which he wrote about engaging in a process of “tuning in” to the voice of the corona virus. My interest was piqued as I’d been posting articles about COVID that I found to be illuminating in my Medium blog, “Covid Inspirations,” ( See: https://email@example.com).
I’ve added an article of his below from 2010 which took a deep look at the roots of our challenges with climate and the environment; totally relevant to today. See “Mother Earth ‘Speaks’: Change Yourself, Change The World, Use The Archetypal Energy “Harmony” As A Guide.” You can download the pdf file of this article here and many of his writing are available through an internet search. http://www.crossingtheboundary.org/motherearthspeaks/
(I’m having trouble adding pdf files to this format, so please note you will need to click on the above link and them click on the link to “motherearthspeaks and then come back here. I promise to get better at this.)
Most everyone is familiar with the spiritual teacher, Ram Dass. Ram Dass contributed enormously to the shift in direction of millions towards Eastern spirituality and then towards integrating spiritual practice with social action and service. He was a pioneer in so many ways and his work is being carried on by his associates and students at Love Serve Remember which you can find at: https://www.ramdass.org/.
My good friend, Joseph Tieger, went through a huge trove of material from Ram Dass and distilled a beautiful collection of RD’s talks on this subject, “Ram Dass – Engaging in a World on Fire.” Please download the file and read when you have time. http://www.crossingtheboundary.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ramdass.pdf
As we grow and expand consciousness, individually and collectively, we are transforming our sense of ourselves and the community within which we find ourselves. We see and feel our inter-connectedness with all-that-is and are moved to do what we can to help relieve suffering and find joy and love in all our relations. May we allow the overflow of this consciousness to spread to all parts of the world, to and through the one blessed world we share, Mother Earth and all creation.
Witnessing War and the Passing of a Peacebuilder
“Into a blinding darkness go they who worship action alone.
Into an even greater darkness go they who worship meditation.”
First off, a song that is both deep and hopeful (a rare combination) from my good friend Bob Ressler. Please check it out:
Global Social Witnessing
From where we are, we watch as a violent aggression takes place. Politicians and pundits who support their own country’s violent agressions issue condemnations while another tidal wave of human suffering comes to pass. Few of us have any access to the levers of power that would make a difference – even if we knew what would. Yet we feel the pain of it, the anger, the frustration, the sadness.
As a therapist, I’ve been aware for a long time that while my clients are troubled, anxious, depressed or just confused by one or another situation in their personal lives, whether they know it or not the weight of the world is magnifying their distress. Some choose to take in massive amounts of news information, knowing how much it troubles them, as if to satisfy an insatiable hunger for more pain. Some hide from all news sources as if that will keep them safe. It’s difficult, of course, to know what to do, how to be with this world.
I’ve been very moved and inspired lately by the work of Thomas Hubl . Hubl calls our attention to the collective, inter-generational trauma that we all have within us and the ways in which our own consciousness connects with and helps create the suffering in the world. He promotes and organizes gatherings of people willing to witness the catastrophes and conflicts as they happen in the world and look deeply inside. They are asked to pay attention to what is triggered within themselves, not their analyses of the events. People are asked to “be present – feel what you see – become a global witness.” What emerges are keys to healing both self and the world. The most recent gathering (which I attended) had over 550 people from all over the world focusing on Ukraine and the Russian invasion. Some who took part were from families with roots on both sides of the conflict.
The process is called Global Social Witnessing which is defined as “the emergent human capacity to mindfully attend to global events with an embodied awareness, thereby creating an inner world space mirroring these events.” I highly recommend this talk by Thomas in which he elaborates on the process: https://pocketproject.org/videos/global-social-witnessing-introduction-mindfully-attending-the-world/. (I know how busy everyone tends to be, so save it and check it out when you have an hour. It’s very, very much worth it.)
Passing of Paula Green———————-
We are inspired by and fortunate to have known anyone who dedicates their lives to making a positive difference in the world towards peace and justice. I feel that way about getting to meet and have a conversation with Paula Green who I’m sad to say passed from the Earth suddenly on February 21st. Her legacy includes establishing peace dialogues between warring groups in many parts of the world. As she said, “I found myself no longer willing to be a passive witness to the suffering caused by armed conflict and the unbridled misuse of power and privilege.” Her most recent activity involved creating “Hands Across the Hills,” which brought together Trump supporters from Kentucky and liberals from Massachusetts for meaningful and respectful dialogue. Here is the message about her from the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding which Paula founded.
You can see my interview with her at: https://youtu.be/BpfneC8HTO0
Or listen to the podcast here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1827447/8945289
Finally, here’s a poem by Penelope Scambly Schott that I received from the wonderful Kosmos Journal.
I Wanted to Make a Difference
I didn’t want to be raised
by a sad mother.
I didn’t want her brother
to have died in World War II.
It’s hard to change history.
Even God can’t change history.
But with one trick, I will.
It’s 1912. I’ve gone back in time.
Adolf Hitler has just been rejected
from the Viennese Academy of Art.
I speak perfect German.
I have a purse full of gold marks.
I track down young Adolf
and knock on his door. It opens.
Ich bin gekommen um deine Bilder zu sehen.
I have come to see your paintings.
Wie schön, I say. Verwunderlich.
I purchase several. I rent a gallery.
His paintings get better.
He sells more.
His mustache gets messier.
He keeps painting.
World War II never happens.
The Jews of Europe, the Gypsies,
they all survive.
No Hiroshima. No Nagasaki.
My uncle has his 23rd birthday.
My mother smiles.
She is so pretty.
Learning from COVID
Covid InspirationsJust now·6 min read
“If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
“The bullets fired by a crazed gunman only travel
a distance measured in feet;
the hatred generated by that gunman’s subtle energy field of
thought and emotion can travel around the world.
So can the energies of love.”
“There’s a disturbance in the Force!”
When I started the site on Medium, Covid Inspirations, like many other folks, I thought the pandemic would run its course fairly quickly. Wrong, at least insofar as “quickly” meant a year or so. I also thought that perhaps this visitation from the micro-organismic earth intelligence would serve to unify humanity in a collective effort to respond. Wrong again.
There were signs in the early days of the pandemic that a spirit of goodwill and cooperation was being fostered. It was noted that this was the first time in human history that people in all parts of the world were focused on dealing with the same sense of threat. Also, people were being asked to make sacrifices to keep themselves and their community safe and they were finding creative ways to do this, to help their neighbors, to make music across the streets in lockdown, to wash their hands as rituals for all of humanity. Most of the posts in Covid Inspirations had reflected this hope.
But it soon became clear that the strategies for responding to the pandemic became just another dividing and militantly polarizing issue in a humanity already at war with itself. This division about the response has compounded the stress of the physical aspects of the pandemic exponentially. Truthfully, I’ve found it hard not to contribute to the divisiveness myself in words and in my heart. It seems clear that the unifying lessons of the pandemic are not easy ones. Listen to the words of the Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, “Land of the Free — Home of the Self-Centered.”
On the far other end of the spectrum, Robert Kennedy, Jr often references the holocaust and Nazi Germany in describing the vaccine and the mandates.
Perhaps it’s time to step back and revisit the question of what the virus itself may be telling us. David Spangler’s essay (the most read piece on Covid Inspirations), does this in reporting a message from a ‘subtle, wise entity’ that communicated with him about the pandemic. https://firstname.lastname@example.org/message-from-david-spangler-7ce7a700a665 . Spangler received the following suggestions from his non-physical friend:
“In this pandemic, you look upon the microbial realm as an enemy. This can only add to the imbalance. Please send love into this realm.
“There has been a cry for help from many sources in the natural world and the beings that serve it, and this virus is responding to this cry. You can build a civilization that serves your needs and aspirations while also serving the harmony and well-being of the world around you. You will need to make changes, but this is within your capacity. You need to see yourselves as citizens of a planetary, Gaian community. This virus reminds you of this.”
Dr. Carroy Ferguson, president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology does something similar. Dr. Ferguson calls attention to the ideas of quantum physicist, David Bohm, that there is an implicate order in the universe within which we can commune and communicate with other intelligent life forms. He “wondered what would happen if I opened my mind to see what would emerge from the implicate order in a dialogue with COVID-19.” The full text is here: https://www.academia.edu/68031590/An_Inner_Dialogue_and_Message_From_COVID_19_Carroy_Cuf_Ferguson_Ph_D_President_Association_for_Humanistic_Psychology_Professor_University_of_Massachusetts_Boston. Some excerpts:
“As I understand it, your Collective Consciousness as a species is seeking to become a more mature Collective Consciousness that understands its connection to All That Is consciously. It is why you are here at this time in human history, and why I am here…
”I also want you to know that just like all aspects of All That Is, I too have consciousness and purpose….
“My message is a simple, yet broad reminder message. That message is: It is time to change how you think about and act toward one another; it is time for each of you to get in touch with who you truly are as souls on the planet at individual and collective levels and to embrace your power as a creator of your reality. At individual and collective levels, it is important that you recognize and understand the true nature of your interdependence with one another as souls, your Group Soul-Linked Consciousness as a species, and your interdependence with the Soul of the planet that you inhabit. Your consciousness, like my consciousness, therefore, is very much linked to the Consciousness of All That Is and to the Consciousness of what you know as Mother Earth or Gaia….
“You know and call me a virus and you currently view me as an enemy against which you must fight. I am not your enemy, although I understand that I appear to be. As strange as it may sound to you, I am here as a collaborative teacher and learner with you at individual and collective levels. I learn and adapt just like you do….
“My mutations are my expressions of what I learn about how best to live with you, how to communicate more effectively and efficiently with you and your body consciousness so that I can do less harm and co-exist with you. Likewise, your vaccines are your expressions of what you learn about how best to live with me. Your vaccines, in other words, are the methods you have developed to learn how best to communicate more effectively and efficiently with me and my consciousness. You see, we are both engaged in a collaborative and cooperative learning process to figure out how to more effectively and efficiently communicate with one another so that we can co-exist together…
“So, why am I here? My role, my broad purpose, is to assist in the evolution of your Collective Consciousness as a species…..
“While my origin may be scientifically interesting, what is more important is that for the first time in human history, as you understand it, you are now engaged in the same global conversation. This external condition, which you call a pandemic, is a necessary context to assist you in the evolution of your Collective Consciousness as a species. Through this kind of global, external conversation, opportunities have been, are, and will continue to open up…
So does any of that resolve the questions about whether the vaccines are a good thing? Whether we should have mandates for mask wearing in public venues? Whether any particular medical intervention is worthwhile? Whether the public health measures that have been adopted have caused more suffering than the virus or saved us from a enormously greater toll of illness and death? I don’t think they answer any of these questions.
Whether or not you believe the source of these ideas is anything other than a human attempt at wise counsel is not really the point. There is no denying that humanity is in peril as a result of it’s failure to respect and live in harmony with the web of life of which we are a part, from the micro to the macro. It’s clear that this lack of an attitude of respect and empathy is in full expression in human-to-human relations, making it almost impossible to address any of our problems with a spirit of trust.
Einstein is often quoted as saying “A problem can’t be solved from the mindset that created it.” These “voices from beyond” are telling us to shift our consciousness, to expand our consciousness They tell us that only from a state of mind that loves and includes all beings will we find our direction not only with COVID, but with all the much greater challenges coming our way.
As a psycho-spiritual therapist I feel a need to add that expanding consciousness does not mean avoiding or suppressing the fear and anger that are a natural human response to behaviors that are hateful and abusive. While we need to recognize, accept and honor these feelings, we don’t need to feed them. We can learn to transmute their energy into the fuel for action with compassion in service to Mother Earth.
The very recent passing of the venerable zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, brings to mind his explanation of the essential Buddhist teaching called “inter-dependent co-arising.” Nhat Hanh tells us that this means “that everything arises in dependence upon multiple causes and conditions; nothing exists as a singular, independent entity.” To paraphrase Rumi, “There is a field — a unified web of inter-dependent beings, co-arising — I’ll meet you there.”
Communing With the Realms of Life on Earth
This message comes with a link to a prayer/meditation that I recorded for my podcast series. The practice is one that I learned from my good friend and teacher of many years, Ralph Metzner, who joined the ancestor spirits in March of 2019. It’s a very helpful way to focus your attention before going on a journey of any kind, whether inward for healing, growth or exploring and expanding consciousness, or outward through the world. Similarly, it can be used at the end of a journey for opening to and expressing gratitude.
“Communing with the Realms of Life on Earth” begins with a short meditation to center, balance and open to a fuller integration of body, mind and spirit. We then invoke (or call attention to) the spirits of the different realms: place, time, the four directions, the animals, plants and fungi, minerals, ancestors and humans. We do this for the good of ourselves and all life on Earth.
Here is a link to the podcast which I hope you enjoy and find helpful: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1827447/9799490.
Much has been said about the need for a major paradigm shift in human consciousness in order to avert or mitigate the impending catastrophic consequences of human activity over the past centuries. Some of the elements of that include shifting from an individualistic, competitive orientation towards greater cooperation, collaboration and mutual respect. Going deeper, the transformation we are opening to calls for a different quality of awareness of who we are, what our place is in this world, and how we pay attention to what is all around us.
I think I am safe in saying that anyone reading this has, like myself, been strongly conditioned with the attitude that humans are the only truly intelligent life on Earth. While a few alternative scientific studies have revealed some kinds of intelligence in animals and even plants, there is still the tendency, for most of us, to keep our attention focused primarily on humans. This may be true even if we have begun to adopt beliefs that humans are not the pinnacle of evolution or that consciousness is not a product of the human brain. Beliefs do not become our reality until we essentially embody them in the substance of our body, until we know in our heart and gut. This cultivation of a change in consciousness takes openness, intention and practice.
In the meditation/prayer “Communing With the Realms of Life on Earth” there are several suggestions that stretch the boundary of the mainstream consensus of what is real. One example is opening to the non-physical, spiritual, intelligent aspects of animals, plants and minerals. This was (is) the way indigenous people related as they sought prayerful connection with the spirit of a particular animal they were hunting or sought the benefit of a plant for medicine or spiritual awareness.
Other elements of the Communing practice is a focus on place and time as having sacred energy with which we can attune; the calling of attention to the spiritual energy of the four directions of the planet; the opening to experience the presence of ancestors who are no longer “alive” in physical bodies. Rather than believe, you are asked to simply be open to the possibility that when you direct your attention with thought, heart and senses, without prejudgment, you may experience these realities for the first time or more deeply.
I think this non-dogmatic, empirical approach and attitude is what can help us shift our consciousness and contribute to the collective transformation of humanity. We have been counseled to “be the peace we want to see in the world.” Likewise, may we be the mutually respectful, multi-dimensional beings that are vehicles of compassion and bring the harmonizing power of Spirit throughout the web-of-all-beings within which we live. I invite you to listen to this practice and I hope it is helpful to you in that realization.
The Wounds of War and the Warrior Archetype
War is what happens when civilization fails. And our efforts at civilization have failed again and again, including at this very moment in many areas of the world.
I have just finished a stimulating interview with my friend, Dr. Ed Tick, a depth psychologist who has focused on healing the wounds of war.
Dr. Tick is a profound teacher and healer who works with the relationship of the Warrior Archetype to the healing of the traumas of war: PTSD and moral injury. His work with Veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has included bringing groups of Veterans to Vietnam for reconciliation ceremonies with what were “enemy combatants” from the “Viet Cong” and National Liberation Front.
In this interview he talks about his own development. He speaks of the work he needed to do himself as an anti-war activist crossing boundaries of belief and attitude so he could sit with empathy and compassion with physically and emotionally wounded soldiers who have fought America’s wars.
Dr. Tick is the author of numerous books including, Warrior’s Return -Restoring the Soul After War, The Practice of Dream Healing – Bringing Ancient Greek Mysteries into Modern Medicine and his just released Coming Home in Vietnam. Coming Home is a book of poetry that comes from his direct experiences doing the reconciliation work in Vietnam. The book “illuminates the soul-searching and healing that occurs when Vietnamese women and children and veterans of every faction of the “American War” gather together to share storytelling and ritual, grieving, reconciliation, and atonement.”
I highly recommend his books available at all the regular sources and hope you listen to and enjoy my interview with him either on YouTube , or as a podcast.
Blessings and peace,
YouTube link for interview: https://youtu.be/ObRpdPcQM2M
Podcast link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1827447/9624838
Website for Dr. Tick’s work: mentorthesoul.guide