Last weekend (9-10 November 2013) I was lucky enough to attend Gateways of the Mind, Europe’s largest lucid dreaming and consciousness convention, organised by Archetype Events, aka husband and wife team Davyd and Emma Farrell. This was the second Gateways event, and the organisers excelled themselves in pulling together a panel of big hitters from the world of lucid dreaming and out of body experiences. Corridors were lined with visionary art – Edward Foster being a particular highlight – books from Tibetan lama Tenzin Wangpal Rinpoche, UK lama Charlie Morley, standup philosopher Tim Freke and others, sacred Amazonian tree essences from Mimi Buttacavoli and many others.
Of the speakers, all of whom were passionate, fluent and engaging, my attention was first grabbed by Michael Winn, Taoist alchemist and former colleague of Mantak Chia. Michael constructed a piece of theatre, placing members of the audience in various seated positions in order to demonstrate the spheres of the self, from conscious to subconscious to soul to collective soul and ultimately to the Tao herself, a fun and very graphic way to communicate this esoteric concept of the self. He also talked about the microcosmic body’s holographic relationship to the macrocosmic universe via the five elements and their ‘housing’ (or quantum entanglement, if you prefer) in the body via the spirits of the five major organs. Approaching these spirits as intelligent, aware beings with their own strengths, weaknesses, feelings and even will is a deep fundamental of Taoist Alchemy. It is the same in the shamanic healing mode I practise over at Spirit13ody. More on that soon…
The ancient but ever youthful and thoroughly pleasant Stanley Krippner gave a delightfully old fashioned US academic style global tour of shamanic dreaming. Here’s a man from the same vein as Richard Evans Schultes and Dennis McKenna, Columbian shaman’s shirt under stained double breasted blazer.
The youthful but perhaps somehow ancient Charlie Morley manages to combine great knowledge with the bouncy style of a children’s television presenter. Indeed it would be a marvelous thing if he did have a television show, talking to children about the flying dreams they’re having and reminding them to remember these early holy grail experiences. Like Parsifal, we spend our lifetimes trying to find them again.
The organisers chose well in putting Tim Freke on last. After William Buhlman’s more urgent talk, Tim’s comic relief worked like magic. In a masterful performance combining his love for his dying mother and barefoot slapstick antics, he brought us to that deeply humanist realisation Jack Kornfield wrote about in The Path with Heart: the twin destinations of the spiritual path, spirit and self. We are, said Tim, that ineffable dreamer that dreams us, AND this dreamed self, with its fears and failings. The idea of annihilating the ego, he said, was a bunch of distorted Indian crap. You can’t annihilate it. Rather, it’s a dance, and you improve it. Having met more than a few spiritual types who thought progress was about minimising their personhood – with all the shadows that creates – it was refreshing to hear Kornfield’s message spelled out in the most delightfully animated and inspiring way. Tim brought the convention to a close with a wonderfully simple exercise that brought to life that deep concept that we are all one, elements of a dream being dreamed by the same dreamer, just as in our own dreams, the myriad characters are all us. As one, we rose for a standing ovation.
Earlier, Celtic shaman Martin Duffy spoke at length about awakening to his own ‘indigenous’ knowledge, catalysed by visits to the Amazon and so on. His first hand accounts of encounters with the Sidhe were riveting. The Shining Ones, he said, were watching the human race very closely, some among them being terminally pissed off with our disregard for nature, others remaining sympathetic, so to speak. This is of course a big theme – the big theme no less. What is the right relationship of mankind to the Earth. Is it ours to do with as we will? Is it the other way around? Who are the Sidhe? The way Martin spoke of them reminded me of the way Judy Satori and others speak of Intergalactic Councils…with factions for and not so for humanity being given time, more time, to work things out in its own way.
According to Juliet Carver’s Bali-published Worldbridger, echoing 1996′s collection of channelings The Only Planet of Choice, Earth is unique in the entire Universe, if not Multiverse, in that it is the only planet of free will. It is thus an adventure playground, a test, an experiment, a game, a riddle. What will we do down here, given we are free to do what we want, free here and only here from the shackles of Divine Will?
In Bible terms we’re talking about The Fall from Grace, the step of The Fool over the edge of Innocence and into the gravitational well of karma in which the Earth and its ever growing coat of attached souls flounders. Yet Fall we must. Only Planet of Choice, channeling one ‘Tom’ of the ‘Council of Nine’ has a crack at this most ineffable Why? Ultimately, says Tom, because God god bored. God split from Oneness into Duality in order to have something to push against. To see what would happen. To make life more interesting. Hence Satan, hence antagonism, hence the hero’s journey. Comparative studies via ironic reversal (see the initiatix series in this blog) reveal deep ironies/paradoxes/truths here. For instance that – and here the wheels of language are truly spinning in the air – God is She and Siva/Satan is He, created in order that He might (almost) destroy God – just as women are turned on by the deathliness of men, so they say. What a thrill. As discussed in Hysteria of Machismo and earlier posts in the initiatix series, the ultimate thrill for the immortal must be guess what – death!
Which brings us to my ulterior motive for writing this review: William Buhlman. In a two hour session he set out the by-now-standard stall for Out of Body Experiences. I am unclear what the distinction between lucid dreams and OBEs is. I suspect the two are industry- distinguished rather than ontologically distinct. Anyway. OBEs present a conscious holodeck in which to conquer fears, access higher levels of self and ultimately train for that most profound and total OBE: death. I subscribe 100% to all of that.
Which is why I was shocked to hear Buhlman, on a roll about the immortality of the soul and the infinitude of the multiverse, say that he didn’t care ‘if the planet died.’ He was emphatic about it. He was also emphatic about the role of war in teaching souls courage. I’ve heard Buhlman speak twice now, the first time more than ten years ago, when he was promoting his first book, Adventures Beyond the Body. Both times he referred to his previous incarnation as a Nazi tank commander. At the weekend he added that both his sons have completed tours of Iraq. Buhlman, if you didn’t know, is a part time commander of OBEs at the Monroe Institute in Virginia, a mere 100 miles from the Pentagon.
Those familiar with my writing will know where I’m going. While Buhlman’s experience of the multiverse is for sure much greater than mine, to hold that the Earth is entirely expendable, given the infinitude of universes, dimensions, other worlds out there, smacks of Lizardry. In other words, those unreconstructed beings of Inner Space who, having destroyed their own planet, invaded ours. In other words, those unreconstructed beings who, having destroyed America, invaded Iraq. If this is the level of consciousness that Buhlman’s mantra Higher self now! has elevated him to, then perhaps something has gone awry in his dance of selves.
I didn’t get the chance to put the matter to Buhlman. Perhaps I misunderstood him. He seems a nice enough bloke, if a little buhlish. Without prejudice then, to present oneself as a guide to greater consciousness, and hold that the Earth, Gaia, Pachamama, is expendable, is highly dangerous.
There is of course further inquiry to be made here, through further gateways of the mind– or rather revolving doors of irony – but that’s another article. Meantime let’s give old Pachamama the benefit of the doubt and show her some love.