A guided visualization toward the boundary of self.
“You step into the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
— Bilbo Baggins, from The Lord of the Rings
Christian doctrines were fostered by the Pre-Socratics long before its eponymous savior laid them down. Fanned by the winds of the Mediterranean, a rational division of human nature into good and evil already prevailed in Greek thinking by the time he came along. It was an injection of reason into the tribalism of the times, though it was not until Martin Luther that rationalism became a force of its own, and from that came science.
Cultures on other continents avoided the Western Judeo-Christian upheaval. Perhaps they were less disturbed by testosterone, blood lust, or imperialism. Maybe more space fostered greater peace. If there is anything that Europe and the Mediterranean are famous for, it’s starting wars.
This is not ancient history. The dialectic between reason and intuition resides in us today, reverberating between the poles of mental illness and innovation. I grew up trained both as an artist and as an entrepreneur, which is why I have become a therapist and consultant. I felt unbalanced being one or the other, so now I am both.
Western religion eliminated initiation as a process of personal empowerment, a voyage into one’s personal unknown, and turned attaining wisdom into an intellectual puzzle. It was, I believe, an attempt to extirpate the shadow of savagery, as we see this in the West’s strained attempt to celebrate the good and banish evil. These efforts look good on paper and they may feel good on holiday, but they don’t work. The Dark Crystal cannot be buried or destroyed.
Intellect provides a poor path for understanding ambiguous things, things that do not reduce to simpler ideas. Irreducibility is inconsistent with intellect’s nature. The subconscious, the substrate of our personality, is such a thing, and it remains opaque to intellectual understanding. As a physicist I am entitled to disparage the intellect. To paraphrase my mentor Eugene Wigner, “Don’t think too much!” He won a Nobel Prize.
So here we are, fearing mental illness and following pathological leaders. And here you are, poured into an ancestral mold of love and struggle, barely aware that you’re formed from a mold at all. And here I am, trying to hit the brakes in the post-Martin-Luther world, selling bandaids for the Apocalypse.
My product is neurological spirituality, scientific hedonism, technological paleo-ism or, to put it plainly, a reunion with emotions. For what are you if not the modern product of our prefrontal cortex? We are the first species, following Adam, to build a reality based on abstractions. And what were you before, as are the other self-aware species still? Emotional beings who viewed reality from the bunker of our brainstems, from our emotional centers. We were not governed by our intellect.
Here we are and back again, to reconnect to the great fears that personify our instincts, reflexes for things we cannot judge or cope with. We are exploring the “faint” reaction in the West’s “fight or flight” dichotomy, in the grey zone that was supposed to be forbidden by the Law of the Excluded Middle. We are in the world of trance, as individuals and as a species. It is a descent into chaos, and it is the bridge between impotence and creativity.
Mêtis, Zeus’s first wife, personified deep thought, prudence, and wise counsel—personal characteristics resulting more from experience than from education, as no one can teach you wisdom. This is the core lesson of my book, The Teaching Project, Rites of Passage, and the basis of my work here.
“Mêtis is both the deceptive power that creates the illusion of our world and—like the Buddhist upâya—the ability to navigate through it, the skillful means to awaken others, often through trickery, in the midst of illusion.”
— Gregory Shaw, in his 2004 review of Peter Kingsley’s Reality, appearing at http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2004/2004-07-43.html
What are my tools? They are electrical, pharmaceutical, and the poetic: brainwaves, psychedelics, and the spoken word. Tools that can tap into whole consciousness without conceding to its parts: the electroencephalograph (the EEG), ayahuasca (an entheogen I don’t offer but on which I can advise), and hypnosis. It is toward this end that I’m posting, writing, teaching, creating hypnotic meditations, and offering therapy/consultation. I invite you to buy a ticket.
It has long been demonstrated that through trance we can use words born in the conscious mind to explore the subconscious. In trance, words become vehicles for metaphor and association, triggers rather than markers, and can take us to a world different from the one we leave behind. This is the province of hypnosis: suggestion in a state of expanded awareness. All states of mind are hypnotic states; hypnosis is merely the process of being facilitated between them.
I sell my hypnotic meditations as downloadable MP3 files but, for many of these postings, I’m offering them for free. The piece offered here, called There and Back Again, demonstrates the power of words to take you to different borderlands. Many things take us to our boundaries, but rarely do we stray far into them. Yet, in there lies new knowledge, and it is support and guidance, as I offer, that gets you there.