The Necessary Hero
Activist Imperative of Prenatal/Perinatal Understanding:
How Crazy Is Insanity … How Deadly is Dead
Humanicide and Omni-Extinction … and a Sane Response: What I Found Out
At this point in the book, let us summarize some of what I have said so far and begin to look at what can be done about all this.
Our Situation Is Dire
What did I find out, especially as it pertains to this book? I found out that we are in a unique time in history … a time unlike any other in the multibillion year history of this planet. And we are of a unique species where we are capable of ending all life on this planet very soon. And we are likely to do that.
I found out that this situation is especially dire because we have not merely crazy people in charge and insane societies, as Fromm (1955) long ago pointed out and more recently deMause (1982, 2002) has been reminding us. We find that the starting point for doing anything about our precipitous plunge into oblivion is essentially a psychotic culture. We need to get there, from here. And here is a place where the overwhelming proportion of people are looking away from a threat that will shorten their lives, kill off their children before their time, and most likely end all life on this planet in their lifetimes.
We Are Insane
Still, you balk at the word psychotic in describing current cultures and societies? First, remember that the definition of psychotic is not what comes to people’s mind … someone in a straitjacket pounding one’s head against a wall … a street person collapsed, unconscious, drooling, sitting up against a wall on a city street. No. the definition of psychotic is someone in their own world, one that is divorced from reality. Quoting now, psychosis is “a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.” Psychotic societies and peoples would be groups who are divorced from reality, collectively.
Now, would you refrain from using that word to describe a culture and people who could murder millions upon millions of Jews and others of nationalities or physical makeup dissimilar to themselves? I doubt you would have a problem labeling psychotic a Nazi society who went about systematic murder on such a grand scale. Now, you tell me how it is not psychotic — that is to say, completely dissociated from reality — to continue along with normal life with a holocaust of much greater magnitude approaching rapidly?
Just Call Me Neo. Lol.
The only reason people do not recognize themselves as psychotic is that they cannot see themselves from a point outside of their disease; they are immersed in it and confuse it with reality. Think, The Matrix, for example. One has to be outside it to see it. I dare say that it is only because I have gone through a lengthy process of primal therapy, of being unplugged from the “matrix,” as it were, that I am able to see it. This is what I mean when I say that in the process of becoming saner and saner about ourselves in primal therapy, we eventually became saner about society and reality in general. Exotically speaking, we saw reality from outside the Matrix.
It Will Be Difficult
At any rate, in that we do live in psychotic societies, to address this problem of omni-extinction is necessarily going to be difficult. It is harder than it would otherwise be, because we cannot help but feel ourselves to be alienated from the larger society and culture when we go about doing exactly that which is in that larger society’s and culture’s interest and which they should be doing, or at least supporting us in doing. We cannot help but even question ourselves, our motives, even our sanity in this situation where to be sane means to have to split off so much from our social context — a context decidedly insane.
What is the definition of insanity, after all? Well, as Einstein saw it, insanity is continuing to do the same thing, which has failed, expecting different results. What else is it but insane to go about, in Icarus style, proceeding with the construction of nuclear plants, Chernobyl and Fukushima in our rear-view mirror; going along with the use of fossil fuels, unprecedented weather patterns and Hurricane Katrina just behind us; not addressing the plight of millions of species of planetmates going extinct at a rate one-thousand to ten-thousand times normal, in awareness that our survival depends on them; ignoring the collapse of an ecosystem in full swing, one in which we are immersed and upon which we are fully dependent; and simply not changing our normal lives, even as we know that unless we do, it will have mortal consequences for ourselves and all life we know, including our loved ones?
Just How Crazy Is Insanity?
Not insane enough? How about the fact that to top off all that ignore-ance we pat ourselves on the back, even deem ourselves especially “strong” in our “ego strength,” in being able to keep the awareness of the danger threatening our lives out of our minds … congratulating ourselves that we are “compartmentalizing” it? Does it, let us say, make any sense to continue working in one’s office in one’s house, while one’s house is on fire … saying we are “strong” and “healthy” for being able to do that?
No. Of course not.
So we have to save ourselves and the life around us, but in doing so we are going to come up against the insanity of our cultures and societies. We are going to be in conflict with them, and we are going to be stymied and set upon by our social environments, even as we attempt to address the fate of our physical environment — one in which they, as well, are immersed and upon which they are dependent.
How It Is I Was Able to Find It Out
Let me tell you that my unique understanding of our danger is rooted in the therapies and the prenatal and perinatal understandings I have been delineating in this book.
After Physician Healing Herself….
For, as I said, early in my life I, like many of my generation, saw the problems and realized we had to go inward, first, before we could address them. We had to fix ourselves, first. I and the others of my cohorts who went into primal therapy got saner and saner in the process of it. We were able to “fix” ourselves. But something else happened.
As I just said, those of us who became saner and saner through this process of facing the truth about ourselves also became clearer and clearer in realizing the truth about the world, which is the knowing that everybody else is denying. Emboldened through facing ourselves, you might say, we were enabled to face as well other hard truths about realities outside ourselves. Just as in therapy people uncover the things about themselves that they have been hiding from themselves, so also, after a bit, we were able to encounter and face the truths that the world is hiding from itself.
Just How Deadly is Dead?
The most important of those truths is that we are rapidly going extinct … we are rapidly ending life on this planet. Within anywhere between fifteen to thirty-five years half of the species now existing are going to be extinct.
There are estimated to be nine million species, excluding bacteria, on Earth. Another estimate has it at five hundred million; I assume that would have to include all kinds of things that are considered living, including species of bacteria. But still, nine million, at least. And consider that roughly half of them, or four and a half million of them, are supposed to be gone, to be extinct within mere decades … and likely within our very lifetimes.
As for the exactness of those figures … the actual amount of extinction and the time frame … well, they are hardly relevant, though many reading this would want to take up that train of thought to avoid knowing this hard reality. Why? You see, the actual figures are not relevant, as there is no need to quibble about how many species when any amount of extinction in any way in the same universe of these figures would be equally dire.
For we are part of a fragile ecosystem. Do we really think we are going to be alive at that point, after anywhere near that level of extinction? Do we think that losing a good proportion of the species on this planet — many of which have been here for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of years — within a few short decades, within our lifetime, is not going to have consequences for our own lives? And what will be the extinction rate afterward? Do we think such a dying off of life on this planet would not accelerate thereupon, as the very ecosystem of this planet implodes with ever more consequences and increasingly less support for the life and species remaining?
Quibble if it makes you feel better to do so, but realize also that the extinction scenario is a barometer of an even larger problem. Rather, problems. For the extinction rate is just one of the many things that are going on that are signs of omni-extinction and ecosystem collapse. You just have to think of the many new things we are putting into our environment that have never existed before and that will not go away or decompose, some of them, for hundreds or thousands of years. Plastics are only one example. All kinds of new, man-made, chemicals, with long-term effects unknown or deadly, we are pouring into our environment with about the level of concern of a drunken canine. It is no coincidence that currently we are inundated with zombie images and movies. A part of us knows how unconscious are the great majority of humans at this time.
Furthermore, we are still dangling on a thread, facing a nuclear apocalypse at any time. With the crazy people who are running the governments of the world, anything can happen. Additionally, we have Fukushima — an extinction level event — at this very moment radiating the planet and poisoning us to death. We have managed to construct numerous avenues to apocalypse. Global warming; nuclear radiation and war; uncontrollable outbreaks of new diseases now resistant to our antibiotics; continued loss of the ozone layer, making our very sunshine an increasing threat; dying off of the phytoplankton in the oceans, our oxygen source, leading to suffocation and death of all oxygen breathing species; ongoing deforestation augmenting that oxygen loss and suffocation; release of massive amounts of methane from melting polar ice caps, added to the already number one cause of global warming, the methane released because of animal husbandry — that is to say, “meat farming” — causing our weather and ocean levels to spiral increasingly out of control; and on and on.
The Activist Imperative
The point I am making is that, where I come from, not only have I been, in that aspect of it, facing the truth about, and trying to alert others to facing things we need to face, but I have also been an activist. I have been involved in the environmental movement for many decades. I was involved in the anti-nuclear campaign back in the Eighties.
Back then, I was on the staff of Oregon Fair Share and was canvassing door-to-door on the anti-nuke issue. At that time, the nuclear power plants that were being built, in Washington State, were the WPPSS plants (Washington Public Power Supply System). They were facetiously called “whoops” plants, because they were way, way, way over-budget, over-cost, and they were going to end up costing the people in the Northwest part of the country roughly twelve-thousand dollars per household, over time, of course, through increases in their utility bills.1 And that price tag was just to mothball the plants, that is, to put the construction done on them at that point under wraps for a time when the construction might be able to be completed. Keep in mind, this cost to the residents of the Northwest would not get them any power for their money. We would be paying to cover the costs of the bad decisions made by those investors and municipal and regional officials who had decided on building them.
Well, we created an uprising in the early Eighties, in Springfield and Eugene as well as around the state, that resulted in the city of Springfield, in 1983, refusing to shoulder those costs and taking the loss in their bond rating that resulted. Specifically, our community activism precipitated a lawsuit, which, winning, caused the city of Springfield to default on the bonds issued to fund the plants. The lawsuit hinged on a piece of information dug up by the research arm of Oregon Fair Share: The City Charter of Springfield stipulated that its citizens could not be indebted above a particular specified amount without a vote of the people. The cost overruns at the WPPSS plants were such an exorbitant indebtedness, way above what the City Charter allowed. Since there had been no vote in Springfield, default on the bonds was the only legal course. Once Springfield defaulted, many other municipalities in the Northwest United States followed suit. The investors had to swallow the consequences of their bad investment.
Bailouts Do Not Foster Wise Decision-Making in Future Investments
If you do not see the magnitude of that, consider an analogy from more recent history. What if, rather than bailing out the banks, in 2008, from their bad investments that caused the Great Recession, which began at that time, the people of the United States had not ponied up their trillion dollars plus and instead made the investors suffer their loss? Remember, when the United States bailed out the banks, it was with taxpayer money. So we all suffered, and paid, for the bad investments of those financial “wizards.” Indeed, this refusal to capitulate to financial blackmail is along the lines of what Icelanders did about that same situation in their country, with phenomenally good results for their economy coming forth from it. What I am saying is, rather than continuing to be under the threat of further financial boondoggles in future times, emanating from a moneyed elite convinced they can risk others’ money without consequences, might we not be in a better situation now if the United States had done something like what Springfield did decades earlier?
But more than that, would not an action by the United States in 2008, similar to Springfield’s, have sent a clear message to the moneyed elite that if they did not make better decisions in this regard in the future, the people of the United States were not just going to roll over when told to? That investors would have to be wiser in their decisions? For then they would be risking all of their investment?
Well, that is what happened with nuclear plant investment after Springfield. Since it was clear as day to fat cats that entire communities were willing to lose their bond rating rather than submit to such robbery by the 1%, they stopped pursuing it.
Essentially that is what happened with nuclear plant construction from the Eighties on. With the investors being made to absorb the consequences of their misjudgment of investing in nuclear energy, no more applications to build nuclear power plants were submitted after that. Our actions in Oregon resulted in bringing down nuclear power plant construction in the United States. No more applications were filed, because power producers realized nuclear energy was not going to be cost effective. We stopped nuclear power in the United States.
The point for my purposes here is, however, that we were against nuclear energy — a dire threat to our environment — and we did something about it. Many of those involved, including myself, were not so much concerned about it costing too much but rather because it is just one more nail in the coffin of our extinction. I mean, we can see that with what happened with the Fukushima plants. We were predicting such an event as happened at Fukushima, an earthquake creating a nuclear catastrophe, back then, in the Eighties.
The point also is that we were successful in changing our future only by taking action on the issue. In Oregon, we changed things. In Iceland things changed. But after the Great Recession bailout, we are in the same situation in the United States in being threatened by future financial mismanagement, because the Bush Administration at that time kowtowed to corporate and elite interests.
Activist Imperative of Prenatal/Perinatal Understanding
You see, I have been involved in therapy and have been a therapist, facilitator, and teacher; I am involved in psychology, spirituality, and higher consciousness and have been an academic and researcher; but I am also an activist.
If you have been asking yourself, is this book an activist book? Or is it a book on theoretical psychology? Here is where I am trying to clarify that for you. For this book needs to be both. One cannot be at all effective as an activist if one does not truly address the problems at their actual roots or at least consider and include those understandings in one’s approach. On the other hand, one should not care about just knowing anything if one does not include in that to apply it to bettering the condition or situation of others in this world.
Don’t Be a “Brain-Sucker”
Having knowledge without putting it into use or action leaves one depressed, overwhelmed, and dull. In fact, knowing without action is lazy, selfish, and is a form of intellectual self-abuse. I know, for I found many of these pseudo-intellectual sorts during my evenings “on the turf” when I was doing my anti-nuke canvassing. We used to call them “brain suckers,” for they would want more and more and more information … and they would argue about all of it … and they would say they have to look over the materials before doing anything, regardless how small. But rarely did they take any action. The actual number of those who did was roughly one in one hundred. So these brain-suckers merely got in the way of those of us who were trying to help and wasted our time.
No doubt they never heard, or took to heart, what we used to say, “Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Nor either had they considered what we also used to say (and I hope some folks still do), “You are either part of the solution. Or you are part of the problem.” Both of those things are as true as they ever were, and yet there are many folks who would benefit from learning them, but they refuse to.
So, no, this book is not for them; it is not for the “brain suckers.” Indeed, this book is dedicated to folks who are not like them (see Dedication).
Thus, this is an activist book that presents a major theory in psychology … one needed for activism to truly be effective.
Also, it is a book in theoretical psychology, which has an activist slant. For one should not merely know this, without putting it to use in one’s life. In truth, I doubt that anyone reading this could learn these things without wishing to put them to use. For they are too compelling and provocative; they provide the necessary urgency and the required hope for success.
The point is that when one is really looking at oneself, one also encounters the truths about us all. And that is another reason that this book is, and needs to be, as it is.
Crisis and Opportunity:
The Better Angels of Our Nature Are Being Summoned
Angels and “Demons”
Our Situation Is Dire, Yet It Presents an Opportunity
We are going over a cliff, yes. But I am all about making it the greatest adventure of all, making it the grandest thing, making it the most momentous raising of consciousness imaginable. We are all in this together for the first time ever, because all of our lives are at stake. Our children’s lives are at stake. There has never been a better time to raise ourselves to be the better angels of our nature. Indeed, this book shows just where those better angels of our nature lie within us!
No, there is no time like this. You think about all the other things that we are involved in … the petty disputes between countries and the economic this-and-thats. All of that pales in comparison with the end of all life, the dying of our children, within our lifetimes.
The Better Angels of Our Nature
I mean, there will be the dying of ourselves, and many folks will adopt a macho air that they are above caring about their own mortality. Still, I suppose we can venture to say that most folks can go a little bit beyond themselves and care about their children and their family’s lives, at least. But even though their children are going to die and they are going to have to witness that, it remains to be the rare parent who is at all concerned or addressing this problem of our impending omni-extinction.
We can ask ourselves, instead, wishing to right that wrong, what can this fact that we are facing the demise of all on this planet … what can that bring out in the human spirit? How can we make this the grandest adventure, even if we are heading into an abyss of oblivion?
Regardless of what happened in decades past, and the success we had there, what I find, in 2016, is I find us in dire straits. My main thing is I want to see some kind of activist response. I have not given up hope. I know that it looks bad, impossible, actually. If you “crunch the numbers” we do not have much chance to reverse our course. Still, I think there is a grand opportunity in all this to do something important. I think the best response to an emergency is an heroic action, especially when other people’s lives are on the line. You know we have loved ones. It is not just our own demise we are talking about; we are facing the snuffing out of life of the innocents, that of the babes in arms, the children.
You know, do we really want to just give up the world and let them suffer? To suffer an untimely death? Or just not to get to live out the lifespan that we enjoyed?
I don’t think we do. I cannot imagine any parent not wanting to put their own life on the line to save their child. To throw their body in front of a moving car, if need be. And we are in that kind of a situation right now where things are so bad. Apocalypse is approaching like a freight train. And I do not see why, if people were to understand how serious it is, they would not do everything in their power to avert it. I mean they would expend themselves, not to get that extra dollar or that promotion or whatever, but to save the planet. To put some energy into consciousness raising. To do whatever their skills would allow them to do that would be helpful.
Oh, But Those Troglodytes
We, indeed, are in such dire straits; this goes far beyond the danger of the last world war. At that time entire societies and nations were enlisted in a war effort, and all of our nation’s productivity was targeted at winning the conflict. The threat at that time could not be more real, and dire. For millions died. Millions were killed.
But that is nothing compared to the end of all life on this planet we are facing now. Yet, though more is required than at that time, are we marshaling anywhere near the kind of response it would take to even have a chance?
No. Instead, what we are allowing in our ordinary lives is actually helping to bring about the unthinkable. We need to change our lifestyles, our cultures; we need to be active and confront the forces of annihilation and corporate greed; we need to raise consciousness, to bring awareness to our apocalypse emergency, on a massive scale; we need to enlist the media and to become the media to spread the word of what we are facing; yet we are doing only a smattering of what is necessary.
Meanwhile, from many sources, radiation is filling the globe. Not just from Fukushima, which alone would suffice. We have had nuclear storage leaks. Hanford comes to mind. But there have been others. There is the fact that nuclear power plants leak radiation under the best of conditions. We allow it.
And Their Misinformation
Part of our problem in doing something, of course, is due to the misinformation being put out by corporate interests and the wealthy elite, blinded by their greed and invested in the status quo, who are putting their money and their efforts toward encouraging complacency and denial in the face of our threats. Some true troglodytes, somehow managing to get on stage in the national media and/or to run for and even attain public office, have it that radiation is good for you. They do not know about the difference between alpha radiation put out by plutonium which can puncture cells and alter DNA, for example, and other forms of radiation. Such alpha particles blow holes in cells and chromosomes, causing cancers and mutations. Yet these opportunists and blindly self-obsessed ones confuse alpha particle radiation with the little they know about gamma radiation, as put out by the sun, which passes through you without being able to disrupt cells. Though even too much of that is not a good thing and causes cancer.
So there is the problem of nuclear waste and its storage. Nuclear waste has plutonium emanating alpha radiation. There is currently one hundred million gallons of nuclear waste in the United States alone. Over a million gallons were released from the Hanford, Washington, storage facility in just one accident, though there were others. A mere one gallon of that, evenly distributed and ingested, would kill all humans on earth.
Just How Long Can You Not Step In It?
What are we doing? For 25,000 years some of this radiation — as from plutonium, but there are others of even longer half-life — has to be guarded. This is just the nuclear waste, mind you. We are not even factoring in radiation losses from leaks, disasters, or nuclear weapon exchange. Furthermore, for 250,000 years nuclear waste is still deadly. Think, now, we have vastly different cultures and societies forming and morphing by the decade. Certainly we are nothing like what we were like 25,000 years ago. How can we expect societies of the future to maintain what we set into motion here and now? Can we even be sure they will know about us? Or remember us and the concerns of our moment?
Just what are we screwing with here? How dare we doom life, 25,000 years into the future? And do we really think there is going to be any future for anyone on this planet when we are doing that? When we are putting our planet in that kind of a situation? I mean it is not just humans that die from radiation, it is all life. There are only a few micro-organisms that can live around radiation.
Yet, this is the story no one wants to hear. No one wants to know this. Many would rather get reassurances from insensitive right-wing politicians and troglodyte pundits.
Crisis and Opportunity
Despite all this, in telling this story, I like to point out the positive side of it. For whenever there is a crisis there is also an opportunity.
And in this situation, we have the chance to be the best humans that have ever existed.
Always Are We Here Helping
I had an experience back in 1980 where I received some information “psychically” … let’s put it that way … where I was shown what we have done to this planet over the course of thousands of years. I was shown it. Then I was told that many are being called upon now to do something about our situation. I will be specific about this experience in a chapter to come, Chapter 28.
At the time, and before the experience, I was feeling a lot of despair. Like, what do we do? I know a lot of people who are coming across this material now are going to feel considerable hopelessness. They are going to think it is impossible. This cannot help but bring up in us our BPM II pain of hellacious no-exit frustration, fear, doom. In truth, that is the way I was feeling at the time. Yet what I was told in that singular and profound experience was “Sure, it’s hard, but always are we here helping you.”
It was as if I was told that humans are not alone in this whole thing. Keep in mind, we can only see the entities around us. We are genetically programmed as humans to perceive only within a certain spectrum of human apprehension … perception. Only that. You know we simply cannot know of all of the life that exists in the Universe. Quantum physicists tell us there are many other dimensions, for example. All I know is I was told by this source, or sources, that we are not alone.
It is even possible that what we are doing in this part of space and in this dimension, having to do with nuclear and with climate change, if not other things we are doing, might have repercussions on life and entities that we cannot know or perceive. They might have a vested interest in having us succeed at turning this around. It is also possible that there are supernatural helping forces at work here. I do not know. But what we are doing has such wide ranging consequences in areas, dimensions, and times that we cannot comprehend or even know about, so that anything like that is possible.
There Are Many of Us
Not only was I told we are and will be receiving help, but it was made clear to me that that I was not alone in my concern … or in terms of my action to do something about it. I was told there are many of us humans right now taking up this challenge, making use of this opportunity to be the best that they can be.
That is the other thing about this. We simply do not know how many people there are like us out in the world who want to make a change. We do not know that because it is not like the media is going around saying, “Hey, we’ve got a big problem. And here’s the people who are working on it.”
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The media is completely ignoring our situation for reasons having nothing to do with our survival … but theirs, as ongoing profit producing entities and corporations without conscience. So we will never know until the end … or until it is over, let’s put it that way, how many people are working right now to change things on this planet.
We will never know. It’s like it is going on under the surface, and at a certain point could very well act like the “leaven in the dough,” for it can affect everything. Our individual efforts might be cumulative in ways we cannot know or imagine. The results of our actions to change might then reach a certain tipping point, where everything changes. It could happen in an instant.
Some of my other experiences have led me to believe that there is a possibility it could happen that fast. Not as fast as the opposite of that, abject failure, as depicted in the dream of mine I relate below, but virtually overnight. Think, the hundredth monkey.
Revelations and Possible Futures
In my altered state experiences of various kinds, I have seen things and received information on these matters and our possible futures. You know, I have been heavily involved in holotropic breathwork and nonordinary states of consciousness work. It amounts to going into transpersonal spiritual states and getting information … mostly about oneself and about one’s growth and evolution, but also in general and about major concerns and challenges facing our humanity as well as important, necessary, and timely knowledge.
One cannot know exactly how reliable this information is, and I take it all with a grain of salt and subject to further exploration and research. Not all of what I have learned is true, at least not in the way I originally thought of it. Still, I have found much of it to be true and helpful, and what I cannot verify for sure, some of it, might just be very reliable.
If you think that’s crazy, just consider the times! I’ll wager any day my altered states information against the supposed sanity of the average person walking around in their daily life as if nothing is happening, when their very lives and that of their children are hanging in the balance … and it could happen at any time.
The point I am making is that … the information I got … is that “Sure it’s hard, but always are we here helping you,” but not only that, “but you’re not the only one doing it … there’s many others doing it at this time in history.”
Death as an Ally
Beyond this we are helped by the fact that in this emergency — when we finally realize it is an emergency — we can take advantage of the fact that the best of humans, their highest selves, show up in emergencies. That is what is being called forth now.
I pointed out earlier that there is a spiritual practice of having death as an ally. It is a very common one. It is one of the most common things that primal, unsanitized religions and robust spiritualities do. They take people close to death, to give them a death-rebirth experience. This is the original practice of baptism and similar death/rebirth rituals. Before the whole thing became watered down (no pun intended) and ineffective, the intent behind baptism was to take folks close to drowning, whereupon they would feel their mortality. This would lead one to wake up to the seriousness of life and to connecting with the deepest parts of oneself, which we might call God or Source. It had the same structure and intent as near-death experiences. They were meant to induce a rebirth by bringing one close to death.
What you can say happens is that when you face your imminent demise all of a sudden the things you think are important become trivial … because they are trivial. And the things that you thought were trivial, that really are important, become important. So it resets your priorities … in a good way.
The Bomb as Spiritual Catalyst
Now this kind of having death as an ally or being in the shadow of death is unprecedented to be happening as it is, now. This has never happened on a global scale. We have never had to have this happen on a global scale before.
Nevertheless, ever since the Fifties, with nuclear weapons and other doomsday projects as part of our everyday awareness, people have more and more and more been becoming aware that their end could occur at any moment. There has been a consequent increasing pressure for a spiritual awareness or consciousness awakening. This has been going on since the Fifties. Since the Bomb.
The Reality of Nuclear Apocalypse We Refuse to See
Now, the Bomb is a terrible thing. You can barely get your mind around it, this idea of nuclear devastation. Indeed, depictions of it we see on television, even the supposed documentaries, come nowhere near showing the destruction in the graphic detail it would actually entail. We simply cannot comprehend this situation of there being a desolation so vast, apocalyptic, and long-lasting that you could only survive by staying underground for years. And even then, when you surfaced you would without a doubt die shortly … one simply cannot remain underground for tens of thousands of years.
Yet depictions of this, as for example the TV show, Jericho, show people having nuclear fallout and then it being washed away by a rainstorm and then a few days later they are outdoors having a picnic … as if life actually would go on … that humans would persevere … along the manner of any major catastrophe … a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or such.
But humans would not go on. There would be no picnics, there would be no children playing … ever again! There would be no people! There would be no planetmates, no ecosystem!
Yet folks will only look at it from this sanitized perspective. And though some would say that any looking at the problem is better than nothing at all, I would contend that any presentation of or depiction of it that does not contain an accurate representation of the absolute horror … and evil … of such an occurrence is worse than nothing. For it leaves people with the comforting feeling that life goes on … even if there are deaths, even if one dies, that life goes on somewhere somehow and that the human species survives. Or as one person put it to me once, the Earth goes on and on, there just aren’t any people on it.
Well, this is not true at all. For we are talking about such a total ruination that we would be reduced to the ecosystem of something like the moon … or Mars. Indeed, I am aware of at least one theorist who claimed there is evidence that Mars did experience such a nuclear devastation at one point.
The problem with any depiction of nuclear holocaust that does not call forth the total horror of such an occurrence is that it enables people in their complacency; it derails any spiritual awakening that would arise out of a clear view of our situation; it mutes the response required of us for humanity to survive; and it encourages a superficial or wrong understanding of our predicament that enables people to go about their business as usual … the business as usual that is precipitating the environmental collapse.
The Horror Revealed
Let me give you an example of a realistic emotional reaction to our current environmental-nuclear state, with the end of all life at any time being possible. This is a dream I had a few years ago. An unusually vivid dream. In it, I and a group of others were aware of an imminent danger to all life on this planet. If you have seen the movie, Melancholia, think of a situation like that.
However, unlike the movie, our danger was something we could at least try to do something about and a group of us were so engaged in that. Desperately engaged, in fact. I was moving from place to place in this and that kind of vehicle, some of them quite odd, as dreams can be. I was engaging with people, interacting and working with them, and finally showing up at the place of a device that held a hope of stopping the imminent apocalyptic event.
The point is that I was crying my eyes out the entire time. I was seriously “primal-crying” … like very deep, intense, and flowing with tears. In the dream, I was, that is.
This, incidentally, is something I have done at other times, and it seems that while I no longer primal, that after all this time of doing it, I have acquired the ability to take care of primal material in a dream state. Not unconsciously, by the way, as these dreams are invariably vivid and I wake up having made the proper primal connections necessary to take me beyond whatever painful awareness came out in the dream.
Back to the story, however, while weeping piteously, I was totally aware of our situation and its consequences: I was aware of the immense, incalculable tragedy of the ending of life and how it had repercussions on all that had come before, wiping out the results of all that had ever been done, and had put the category of futility upon the efforts of all beings on Earth, particularly humans, of all times.
Despite this, I was completely and effectively engaged — while at the same time immersed in the full release of deep primal and tearful wailing — with averting the catastrophe and was part of the team to stop it. I am reminded of the heroic figure, vastly misunderstood, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in the movie, Strange Days (1995). He also was fully consumed in his emotions, showing how one does not have to harden or toughen oneself in order to take positive, even heroic actions, while he fully and courageously faced and dealt with every threat and evil that came to him. I thought at the time how this sort of action, while retaining one’s full humanity, and one’s feminine and feelings side, was the kind of heroic attitude we needed today. For certainly macho, unfeeling demeanors and personalities in confronting the evils of the patriarchy only reinforce the problem.1
In any case, near the end of the dream I was at a device involved in the triggering of the event. I was trying to tinker with it to stop the imminent annihilation. The clock was ticking down on the device, and it was a race against time. I was making hopeful progress, but we were getting dangerously close to zero.
As it ticked off its final seconds and hit zero, I was a bit astonished because this time, this countdown, went nothing like all the movies where the miraculous happens and the device stops ticking with only seconds to spare, saving everyone. No. This clock just went plodding straight to zero without even a nod to hollywood. It simply had no interest in our human delusions. Reality itself is hard, decisive, and irreparable, unlike our fantasies and films.
There was one poignant second after that device registered zero. Only one. Then there was an incoming instantaneous approach of something from the horizon and a flash.
And it was all over. Just like that.
What happened after that was rather interesting, too, and I will talk about its meaning when we are focusing on transpersonal and metaphysical aspects of our situation closer to the end of this book. It is not really relevant to my point here, but suffice it to say that I immediately felt myself “rolling forward,” as it were, into another life, another reality … just like that! There was not so much as a hiccup of a delay. I did not even know what kind of lifeform or species I had become. Simply, consciousness-Experience did not end. Like a river, it just kept rolling forward into something new. And when I awoke after that, and subsequently as well, I felt like I have gotten an idea what death is like, and I have lost a great deal, if not all, of my fear of it.
How Long Can You Stay Under Ground?
Back to the point, the problem with the sanitized depictions of our situation, as well, is that they give rise to such notions as was put forth by Thomas K. Jones, the man Ronald Reagan had appointed Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces. He said, “If there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it…. It’s the dirt that does it.” His comment was famous and led to at least one book which used it in its title; it was called, With Enough Shovels (1983). Jones asserted that “with enough shovels” we could withstand a nuclear war with Russia, and his remark was said to encapsulate the attitude of the Reagan administration toward nuclear war and the Soviet Union.2
Yes. I know what you’re thinking.
His insane thinking had him imagining that we could cover ourselves with dirt when the radiation came; three feet of dirt and a couple of doors will do it…. Until it passed. I’m thinking of a line from Bill Cosby, “Noah, how long can you tread water?” And my take on it is to ask Jones, “T.K., how long do you think you can survive under a blanket of dirt? Twenty-five thousand years?”
Jokes aside. This is a man who was at the center of government, smack in the middle of decision making about war and nuclear policy, who could be so cavalier about the murder of billions of people! If you look at the Republican Party’s offerings of politicians these days, especially Tea Party ones, you can see the situation is no better now and has actually gotten worse!
Troglodytes … remember?
The upshot of all this is that humans have simply no way of comprehending the magnitude of the tragedy we are rapidly bringing upon ourselves. Like tinkering with DNA, which we are also blithely and stupidly engaged in, dabbling in the release of forces of the atom is not anything that humans are capable of doing responsibly. At least, not at our stage of evolution … as you can see from the picture I have painted of our psychological underbellies, our human unconscious, as laid out in this book in chapters previous.
So the Bomb is a horrible thing, but one thing it told us was, “Hey! Wake up! Now is the time to wake up. Now is the time to open that mind and become enlightened, become awakened, whatever.”
And I am not talking about awakened as in some intellectual sense or in some “woo-woo” sense. Awakening is not about just knowing these things I am telling you.
What I am referring to when I say awakening, and what is required for our survival if you think about it, involves a change in the person, not merely a shoveling of additional facts and ideas into one’s “brain pan.”
What I think awakened involves is becoming one’s higher Self, or becoming more aligned or in tune with it, anyway. It is becoming the best of that humanity that we are. It is about becoming that more fundamental human nature which is characterized by cooperativeness. The human nature that is tied up with the joy grids; that emanates from the true self, the creative self, of Winnicott; that is in tune with reality like the real self of Janov. The self that is self-confident, contented within itself, creative, and active in a hopeful and positive way. This is our more fundamental human nature. This is what we would all be if we did not go through the hellacious experiences of our prenatal and perinatal beginnings.
For this self is, if you were to think about it, what you would be and do if you were going to die in another day. In fact, give it a thought for a moment. What would you do if you knew your time was up?
Most likely you are going to be thinking about your loved ones. Most likely you are going to be thinking about what you might do for them. You might be thinking about what you might want to tell them before you go.
There are a lot of things you might want to do, but I think what would happen with most people, if they were going to die soon, if they knew their end was imminent, they would start doing the things they have been putting off that involved their compassion, their love, their heart … and their heroism.
They would start to take risks to do things for a higher cause that they have always wanted to do but have been reluctant to do and have been putting off.
The Necessary Hero
And what I am saying is that is what we need. These are the necessary heroes; we need … awakened ones. Awakened, compassionate, dedicated, active.
Right now, there is this coming together of a dire, deadly catastrophe … which is in the making, that is happening right now. It is going on. Extinction is going on at this incredibly rapid rate. So fast that we have been talking about the likely loss of half the lifeforms we are aware of within mere decades. And the oceans are dying. The oxygen producing plankton and the basis of all life on this planet is dying off, and all that.
At the same time, we have a growing awareness, since the Fifties, that is causing people to be more spiritually awakened. They realize they have to do this incredible thing of which they are capable within this lifetime. Because this is the lifetime to do it in; it can no longer be put off. This is the final act, you might say, in a play of many lives for a great number, if not all of us. And we have to do it, not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones. And it is going to bring out all the best that we are capable of. It is going to bring out the best of us, our best selves, our highest beingness … those better angels of our beings as well as including us in the ranks of a new humanity for the world.
So how is it going to go? How is it going to end up? Will we survive?
I don’t know.
But it’s going to be an incredible … story … if nothing else.
And I think it’s going to be incredible to be part of.
The Necessary Hero — Wounded Deer and Centaurs
The Opportunity — The Solution to Misery and the Way to Happiness
Wounded Deer and Centaurs
There are the people facing the problems of themselves and the world who are willing to take upon themselves the burdens of their societies and cultures rather than to act them out. They know that folks have been acting out their inner turmoil on innocent others and in dubious worldly campaigns from time immemorial and that this is what has gotten us into our current crisis of civilization.
Wounded Deer — Sensitive and Hurt
Initially, however, facing and knowing these things is a depressing state of affairs. The problems of society, deeply rooted in oneself, are not easily gone beyond. I call these people wounded deer. You know them; you may see yourself as one. Wounded deer describes them. They are both sensitive … but obviously hurt. They do not seem to respond to the common remedies of normal cultures. For good reason. They are not dealing with ailments that involve not being in tune with or in touch with the culture around them. Very often, in fact, these people are the ones who excelled at the “games” of society and culture earlier in their lives. They are anything but disconnected from reality; if there is an opposite to psychosis, this is it.
But their “ailments” are intractable because they go up against the parts of society and culture that, by contrast, truly are ill. So, not only do they suffer for reasons they should ideally not have to … and a part of them knows it … but they often magnify that by the fact that they refuse to accept the common remedies. Something strong in them tells them that it is not them who needs to change; it is society. And that their instincts are true.
So, these are the wounded deer. Picture them as hurting … and sensitive … and refusing to opt for the normal act outs of society that would allow them to be “healed” in society’s eyes, but which they know would not be true or authentic.
Centaurs — Wounded Healers, Necessary Heroes
Now, centaurs. Centaurs are the people who are then taking that horror and applying themselves toward doing something positive in the world … becoming healers … activists. Thus, wounded healers are the necessary heroes…
Nevertheless, the path from one’s status quo in society to becoming a wounded healer is one of depression and, sometimes, hopelessness. Centaurs start out as wounded deer.
The Opportunity. The Seed of Light in the Center of This Darkness
I should know. As depressed as I became when I first learned of these threats to our existence and their immensity many years ago, now this awareness has enriched my life. For one thing, if nothing else, I know I am part of something big in doing something about our situation. And I know that people who are aware of these things, who get involved and take some action about them, when they align themselves with a higher cause like this, they realize they are a part of something important.
Think for a minute on how many people actually have lived lives where they were part of something important and whose lives were thereby enriched. Do you realize how many people there have been, and are now, living lives where they were doing something they felt was unimportant? Remember Freud’s take on the human condition, which is that we live lives of “quiet desperation.” (And there is a BPM II statement if there ever was one, by the way.)
On the contrary, there is nothing more important than this challenge to save life on this planet. Nothing. Never has been.
It Brings Out Our Best and Even Magnifies Our Abilities
In fact, knowing an end is imminent can have a contrary effect of inspiring us in powerful new ways. We see that humanity blossoms in emergencies. For people put their all into their response.
You see, it is not just that the sense of emergency and the awareness of the closeness of death brings out our compassion, our love, and all that. It also brings out our power; it magnifies our abilities. A father might be able to pick up a car, if it falls on his child. In an emergency like, for example, an auto accident, a parent might be able rip open a car door to free their daughter or son. I have heard stories like this. It has happened to people in my family; it is really common.
One can get kind of like these “superhuman” powers when you are in crisis, because all your being becomes focused on that, and only that.
Now, to a certain extent the more we realize how dire our planetary situation is, the more we discover that it brings out our greatest skills, our greatest talents, our greatest focus … our most powerful and effective selves.
So there is hope in all of that — the way people reassess their priorities toward compassionate and heroic ends and how folks have their abilities at their peak in an emergency. Not just in the way we feel about matters and the love we exude, not just that it brings out the best of us that we have to give, but crisis brings out our best efforts toward those important ends.
What’s It All About, Planetmate?
Let us put that in context. We come into this Earth every time, with each reincarnation, we come here to express whatever skills we are bringing in to that life and to manifest what can come from them.
So that’s what life is all about. Each life is an “experiment in truth,” as Jung phrased it. We bring in certain skills that maybe we have accumulated from previous lifetimes or whatever. These are skills, or tendencies, or desires that we come in to realize … that we come in to try them out.
Well, in this lifetime, with humanicide towering above us, we have the greatest push to bring forward that essential I, to manifest those unique qualities more fully than ever. It is a strangely beautiful thing that in this shadow of death, this emergency, we are being drawn to experience our humanness in the grandest of ways. Even to shift to what is beyond that humanness. More about that in the final chapter, when I place this entire thing into its metaphysical context.
The Opportunity. The Solution to Misery and the Way to Happiness
So, for all I say about how dire our predicament is, I also see it as the most hopeful thing in the world, because a lot of spiritual practices, especially indigenous ones, emphasize the benefit of having death as an ally and/or to face death to experience rebirth. Indeed, there is nothing like thinking about your own end, your own demise, to spur you to a more serious or spiritual appreciation of life. I mean, if you were to say to yourself, what would I do if I were going to die in ten minutes, you would certainly think of something important!
What if I was going to die in another day, in another week? What if my child was going to die? The point is that, just like the Chinese symbol for crisis, which is also a symbol for opportunity, every emergency is also a chance for us to grow. Endlessly we are called upon in life to reframe things, as psychologists say, to make “lemonade out of lemons.” Well in this situation, we are challenged that way to the utmost … to be the best that we can be, for nothing less will do.
You can look at this one of two ways: It is the end and you can be all depressed and morose. Or we can see this as the greatest opportunity ever to raise ourselves up to our higher nature, to be aligned with a higher cause.
The thing that really makes people happy and fulfilled, the real answer to all our personal misery is tied in with exactly this.
I have been researching and practicing psychology all these many years. I have done and facilitated all this psychotherapy. I have looked long and hard and afar into all possible ways of growing and healing and helping and facilitating others. I have been student, and teacher, in this area; I have been facilitating healing and I have been writing prodigiously about it. And out of all that, I will let you in on a secret. This is the thing very few in the consciousness raising or personal growth paradigms know … and rarely acknowledge. It is most definitely alien to pseudo-intellectuals and armchair academics … those “brain-suckers.” Here it is:
The thing, the only thing, that brings people out of their own misery … finally and irrevocably … like nothing else … is aligning themselves with a higher cause. No, not just having a higher power, or higher Self, or aligning with the outlines of such. Rather, what takes people out of their deep unhappiness is identifying with and participating in something beyond themselves that is good, is positive, is helpful …. and is important! Aligning ourselves with efforts beyond ourselves lifts us up out of ourselves and has us move in clarified air and archetypal circles. Our actions become mythic, in a sense. We are most definitely close to Source and inspired by it in everything we do.
Now, consider, there is no higher cause than saving the life on this planet. There has never existed a higher cause than this. This is something … that we can do … that’s important!
How Do You Want to Spend Your “No-Form”-ity
It has never been clearer. We can go off into the No-Form State … you know, out of this physical realm … we could go out in to the beyond this life, whatever that may be, regretting and saying “My God, we let it all happen! And we didn’t do anything, and we were just greedy till the end!”
We could go through eternity knowing that. Or we could go through our No-Form-ity knowing that, even if we failed, “Hey, it was the noblest undertaking, it was the most heroic thing that we did, and we united with people in a grand cause.” And even if we failed, we had this incredible adventure. We turned it into this magnificent undertaking that will make one of the most inspiring stories that will be heard throughout the Universe!
I Would Prefer We Be Heroes
Consider this: It is awfully strange. I mean the figures are that there are twice as many people now alive as has ever existed or as many as has ever existed, depending upon what you consider to be humans, in our prehistoric ancestry.
That is a pretty astonishing statistic, when you think about it. I mean there are just so many people alive! That is the first thing that hits you. The second thing that might occur to you … or that comes to me, anyway … is that it is like we all showed up! To see the end of the movie. Or to be part of it.
We all reincarnated to be here now, as if this is the most crucial time. And we are all going to be here to either watch the spectacle of the end or to help avert it … to be a hero in it. Or heroine?
I would like us to be heroes. I would like us to be the best people that have ever existed. And hopefully we have all showed up to be that.
For Earth’s Sake, Get Real!
“Sure It’s Hard but Always Are We Here
Let us, at this point, talk about what we are up against, what are our prospects for success, and a little about what we need to do and what will be required. Also, we should think about where are our windows to hope, to inspiration, to encouragement.
This chapter lays out the difficulties involved in consciousness evolution and personality change required of us now, pointing out that it is necessarily going to involve hopelessness, even despair, at times. Further on, it details the spiritual experience I had in 1980, when I was taken up by such feelings, which set me on this path to help the planet and the planetmates.
I was shown by unknown beings or the voice of the Divine the path of our devolution as a species, thousands of years ago, and was told that we need to turn this around immediately. I was told that there were many others at work right now doing the same thing, so I need never despair at the immensity of the task. Most importantly, I was told that we — all of us engaged in this tremendous undertaking — are receiving help … always … in our efforts. I was led to believe that these higher powers, of which we are yet to know, are fully engaged in our endeavor on this planet and assisting us at every turn.
The Spiritual Quest, for Earth’s Sake!
Now, let us back up a bit: In my book, Experience Is Divinity, I stressed the point that virtually all rituals are mechanical act outs of the structure of spiritual and transformative experiences, but they are not transformative or growthful for they preclude actual transformative experiences happening. In this sense, rituals, like Freud said of religion, are palliatives, and as Marx concurred, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” To contrast with this, I pointed to actual spiritual-transformative experiences coming under the headings of primal and indigenous experiences like vision quests, walkabouts, experiences of nonordinary states through psychedelic substances, and in current times and culture, under the headings of primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, and some of the experiences catalyzed by certain mind-expanding drugs.
But if it is true, as I say, that ritual is a substitute for real, or actual, spiritual experience, what does true spiritual experience look like? What follows is an example of a spontaneous, unritualized, authentic spiritual experience. It is not one for which I went to a church or attended a workshop. No. It came, using the old-fashioned word, as a “blessing.” But first let me put it in its context.
We Must Do What Has Never Been Done Before
It is no surprise that the activist sensibilities, especially around the anti-nuclear and environmental issues, have married so well with the spiritual/human potential ones. It used to be that activists did not take too much to that “spiritual mumbo jumbo.” In previous generations, activists’ ranks were often comprised of atheistic secular types of progressives who would ridicule involvement in inner pursuits as more woo-woo stuff, not much different from the major religions. And following Marx, who called them “opiates of the masses,” they would pity, if not cast outright scorn upon, any of their members who might have such leanings.
On the other hand, what was often true is that those involved in inner pursuits, and consciousness evolution, would be reluctant to “dirty their hands” in crass political and movement work or activities. Among human potential, growth, or new age groups, to get involved in crude group and political activity was considered too “negative” and too confrontational.
Indeed, this division showed up in the countercultures of the Sixties and Seventies in the sense that there were two distinct alternative lifestyles — hippies, centered on the West coast mostly, and activists, centered on the East coast. And we still see a lot of this division going on today.
Beginning with a “Marriage” of Movements … a Melding of Inner and Outer Paths
But not as much. For beginning back then, coincident with a growing environmental awareness, there was more overlap in these two approaches than had been in previous generations. For it became clear quite early on that any change in human activity that would be effective would have to look to habits of human behavior going back thousands of years. Our problems did not spring up overnight and are rooted in a “human nature” — more accurately, what was thought to be that — that humans have exhibited throughout known history. Indeed, this need to look inward to find the roots of our problems is what a lot of this book addresses.
The Sixties changed that huge distinction between inner and outer ways. It might be because psychedelics opened formerly hard-core activists to spiritual dimensions that they would not have accessed otherwise. Perhaps it was because the environmental movement, following up the activity around The Bomb in the Fifties, touched so much upon human mortality and our existential situation and opened up heretofore unthinkable questions such as the possible ending of life on this planet, so that it opened upon spiritual dimensions. For whatever reason, we saw this early on, with the Beatles, especially John Lennon, who was vigorously involved in the arenas of culture and music, and spirituality … as for example, his involvement in transcendental meditation. He was equally committed to social causes and was an activist; he was involved in politics and movements of all sorts, including the environmental. George Harrison similarly, while noted for his spiritual pursuits, was involved in politics and social issues as well, as in his efforts in the Concert for Bangladesh. At any rate, in John Lennon there was no distinguishing hippie or revolutionary. He was both.
Thus, while the division between secular and spiritual, radical and hippie, persisted, these camps overlapped and “intermarried” more and more over the years, often pushed by the nuclear issue.
Along with this we had the feminist movement and the consciousness raising in general about overcoming inequality in gender relations. Activists and the human potential movement became equally involved in creating new-age, fulfilling relationships based upon equality, honest communication, sexual fulfillment, personal growth, and the freedom from restrictive sexist roles and so the blurring of tasks.
The point is that though all of these involved monumental changes in society, they also required major changes in personality. Consciousness raising and consciousness evolution were set alongside social evolution and cultural revolution … countercultural revolution.
We saw John Lennon go off into primal therapy, along with his political activities against the war and for social justice. The inner and outer paths were seen as equally necessary by many. As I said, the Sixties saw the first activist generation deeply aware of the maxim of physician healing thyself, first.
Still, No Thing Has Ever Been More Difficult Than Changing the Patterns of Millennia
Well, this is where I come in, for I was deeply involved in all of those movements and continue to be today. I was on the cutting edge of the experiences of those times. I can speak to the difficulties involved in taking all these changes upon ourselves.
For, beginning at that time, we realized that we needed to end the cycles of kill and be killed in our own selves and hopefully in one generation. Notice: Intentionally I am saying “kill and be killed” and not “kill or be killed,” which is what one usually hears. For part of the new awareness, as I show in detail in Planetmates (2014), is that thinking that it is a matter of killing or being killed is the problem. One does not save oneself by killing; one damns oneself for not being able to imagine a nonviolent solution. A clearer understanding is that killing promotes more killing. It does not reduce killing, as in the thinking that one might temporarily save one’s life by killing another. For killing begets killing and eventually comes back around to one. Or as they say, one lives and dies by the sword. Indeed, that is exactly the vicious cycle that needs to end. It has always been killing and being killed; hurting and then inflicting hurt; being abused by parents and then abusing one’s children; and so on.
However, the specter of nuclear and environmental catastrophe is pushing and is speeding up this evolution-revolution to this new understanding. We know we need to end those cycles going back many thousands of years in our lifetimes, or not have life after ours. So to do what has never been able to be done, to go beyond the powerful pulls to be drawn into acting the way we always have, using violence, do we think that can be easy? The point is that it was hard… necessarily hard. And it remains a difficult thing to do. The point is that it involved sacrifice, and it continues to require that.
Ending the cycles of violence is and was fraught with emotional upheaval and difficulty on all fronts — in relationships as well as in other consciousness changing, as well as in facing the frustrations of societies that refuse or are reluctant to change, even as injustice and economic inequality deepens and the oppression of the circumstances of “normal” life become ever more apparent. There is also the frustration of confronting culture and human behavior that refuses to change even as we are on the brink of humanicide within our lifetimes. Put bluntly, there is the context of abject stupidity in which we must swim, in which we must do our work. These all add to the difficulty.
Looked at another way — as Ken Keyes (1982) pointed out in The Hundredth Monkey — the threat of nuclear disaster … we need also mention global environmental destruction … is a challenge to all of us. It is a challenge to go beyond the “us vs. them” kind of consciousness which has led us to the brink of catastrophe. As many of us know, we must raise our consciousness in a way that has not been demanded of humankind, as near as we can determine, on this planet ever before.
But Many of Us Are Now Working to Get Beyond “Eye for an Eye” Thinking
Now, many people have been working hard to do just that. Many of us have been working on ourselves to break free from those patterns of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” or, what it comes down to eventually, those patterns of “kill and be killed.” We have been doing it in many different ways.
As for myself, as I revealed earlier in this book, I have been involved in spiritual pursuits since 1968, especially meditation. As well, I have been intensively working on unraveling my negative patterns through the powerful experiential modalities of primal therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork beginning back in 1972. These, especially primal therapy, have been my ways of dealing with the particular negative conditioning into which I was “raised” and which kept me stuck in behaviors and feelings that too often undermined my efforts to live a fully spiritual, a full loving life and to be active, constructive, and successful in our societal efforts to change and have peace. Peace and love, though much espoused, “don’t come easy,” as even Ringo acknowledged.1
However, we all have our ways of trying to grow beyond that kind of negative programming. It is important to recognize that each of us is working in that same direction however we go about it.
Sure It’s Hard. The Task Is Immense for Our Point of Departure Is a Psychotic Culture
As most of us have come to realize who have been on this path for a while . . . who have been working at changing ourselves for a while . . . it is no easy task to change those very deep grids or programs. Rather, we discover that it requires a lot of work, dedication, and time.
The psychiatrist Theodore Isaac Rubin (1983), in his book on relationships titled One to One, points out that the divisive competitiveness and us-versus-them striving that we see predominating around us in Western culture is learned. He writes, “We compete, we fight wars, we are compulsively concerned about our hierarchical position relative to the next person, because we learn to be so through a psychotic culture passed on from one generation to the next.”2 I will not quibble about when we learned that … obviously this book contends that we learned those things much earlier than he or anyone else would imagine … in the womb and at birth. Still in general I agree with him.
The point is that this is where we are coming from. Our point of departure is a psychotic culture or, as Erich Fromm (1955) put it, an “insane society.” Many of us are trying to reverse this violent and crazy trend, but it is understandable that it would be hard to make a 180-degree turn in orientation — from aggression to peace, from competition to cooperation, from fear to love. Furthermore, as my work shows, while these intractable, self-negating, and “psychotic” tendencies have roots deep within us, they are not instinctive or part of our underlying human nature as was thought. Yet, they cannot be changed and gone beyond through simply educating our children better, as Rubin implies. They have deep roots and require more thorough-going, even psychotherapeutic, efforts, to effectively undo them. Therefore, our culture is gradually coming to the realization that we are involved in a difficult process, and understandably so. Our culture is starting to realize the immensity of the task we are undertaking in trying to change our inherited and deleterious patterns.
“To Think That It Is Easy Is Probably to Be an Impostor”
Along these same lines, Herb Goldberg (1983), a psychologist, points out in his book, The New Male-Female Relationship, especially in his section on “Transitions,” that to think that it is easy is probably to be an impostor.3 He asserts that the people who are really making the changes in male-female relationships and becoming fuller human beings, you can expect, are struggling to do so . . . that it is a difficult process and takes time. In fact, Goldberg discusses at length his contention that real growth takes a lot of time and struggle, whereas “pseudo-growth” is the only kind of growing that occurs “overnight” and easily.4 That should be especially important to know for those newbie “aware” ones, who, having read a book or seen a youtube video, automatically go thinking they are “awakened” and that the rest of the world is stupid and sheep-like for not knowing that one thing that they learned.
The upshot is that not only does it take time, but we discover that it is hardly ever pleasurable. What most of us have discovered is that the path to bliss and contentment leads sometimes through despair and hopelessness. As Hermann Hesse (1965) described it in Demian: the bird, in pecking his way out of his shell, must destroy a world before discovering a new one. No, it is not often pleasant to confront some of the darkest things within ourselves, as we must do if we are not to continually project them onto others and onto the world around us.
We Were Once Noble Humans
All these things in mind, what I would like to share, now, is an experience that happened to me while I was in the midst of this very difficult process of trying to root out some of my own none-too-helpful social conditioning and primal traumas. Bob Dylan sang, “Don’t wanna learn from nobody, what I gotta unlearn.” Of course, we know that learning what we later need to unlearn is something hardly any of us are able to avoid in growing up in modern cultures. So, those of us serious about making change find we must change. We become involved in a lengthy, painful, and often onerous task of unlearning of what we “learned” in order to do that. I believe that that this experience I will now share may be helpful to others in their own struggling to be their better selves … the higher angels of their beings … their deepest and truest human nature.
A Cosmic Slap on the Back
In the course of my own struggling to change, in primal therapy, I was at a particular place in 1980 where I was very much in despair at the immensity of the task of changing the programming that was dragging me down — that was keeping me from being the full human being that I could see lying there in potential. It was therefore an encouragement to me when I had the experience that follows — like receiving a cosmic slap on the back, a gift from the Universe, and it helped me through that time. But I am convinced this experience has relevance also for all who are working hard at growing beyond their limited selves. I feel it might especially be of use to someone in a similarly hopeless-seeming place.
Before relating what happened, I want to say that although some might be tempted to call this experience a fantasy or a dream, it certainly did not feel that way to me at the time. I cannot doubt that an unusual thing happened to me, which was unlike anything else that I had experienced prior to it or since. It was related to certain experiences I was having in my primaling but was very different from “having feelings.” I was not under the influence of any drugs, nor had I been previous to the incident. I had one beer that night.
One other note: I will also leave the determination of who the “she” and the “we” were in the experience to the interpretation of the reader. I certainly do not know for sure who she and they were, though I have my ideas — all of them highly positive. Also, the following, except for some minor editing and for changing the name of my companion, is exactly the way I wrote it the morning following the experience:
Journal Entry of June 28, 1980:
I was lying in bed last night with Maddie. Couldn’t sleep, air conditioner too loud. Suddenly I was aware of all this energy coursing through my body. Was really scaring me. My body zinging, intense ringing (buzzing?) in my ears, rushes flowing through me. Was scared I was going crazy, would hurt Maddie, would become possessed or something, etc. Tried focusing on my third eye so as to control it like I did in Portland.
That may have helped some, but I could sense, and was scared of, other “presences” in the room. I thought I heard a woman’s voice behind me over my left shoulder and that scared me. Without realizing the transition, I found myself projected into this panorama of history and a woman’s voice was narrating.
She described how once there had lived “noble” beings. I could see vast and colorful panoramas of peoples exuding “nobility” and “integrity” (for want of better words to describe what they were like). They walked and paraded before me and were all around me.
Then the woman explained that the peoples degenerated and, as if in demonstration, I began seeing battles and wars played out before my eyes. I was in the midst of them!
However, I was still aware that I was in my body lying on my bed, because I could feel myself against it. Even so I was afraid that I would begin taking on the bodies of participants in the battles and would feel pain like they were obviously feeling. This feeling was especially strong when I was in the midst of the convergence of two groups of warring parties (their garb reminded me of Israelites or people of Biblical times or something). The group I was facing were going at each other with hatchets and I was afraid of becoming a participant and possibly feeling an ax chunking into my neck or skull. But although it was happening all around me, nobody in the crowd noticed me; it was as if I wasn’t there. In fact, at one point I believe they actually may have passed through me!
This scene passed, along with other dramas, and it was explained to me that now it was time for a regeneration of peoples on this “plane[?]” to regain their former “nobility[?],” “integrity[?]” (again for lack of better words).
Still feeling that I was conscious, i.e., knowing that it was all happening to me while I was really lying in bed; I let myself walk through many landscapes and terrains, which I felt I could easily have lived in at one time and which I felt had all existed at some time or place or did now exist somewhere in the world or Universe. I walked through small shack towns. I remember a small group of bedraggled people huddled together in one. There were many kinds of pastoral settings also: some beautiful with rolling, lush hills, and some not as beautiful — rocky terrain, etc. All seemed to be viable habitats for different people. I had the thought that these may have been places/lives that I had lived in at one time.
Certain places brought up bad feelings in me, foreboding, scared feelings. In fact, it can be said that the whole time it was happening I was scared about the experience. I feared meeting some dangerous and evil entity or being stuck in an undesirable place. When I was in one particular environ/habitat that wasn’t very pleasant, I remembered something that Seth had said about consciously altering and changing his environment. In line with that I decided to stop believing in the one that I was in and see what happened.
What happened was that environment went away and then there was a blank grayness as I waited for a new scene to appear. I continued to be aware that I was in a trancelike state and that I had a body lying in bed. I would at times vaguely return to the feeling in my body and would feel myself on my back, hands and arms outstretched, mattress against my back, in a very deep state of relaxation and suspended animation which had a feeling of heaviness or deadness about it. My body didn’t need to move and it was perfectly comfortable.
I could hear the air conditioner running, also, and even Maddie’s breathing next to me. Several times, I don’t remember exactly when, Maddie had reached over and put her arm around me, both times only for an instant, before she rolled back away from me. Neither of the times did it disturb the deep state that I was in or cause me to rise at all out of it. I simply felt warm and good towards her at the affection she was showing me. I even had the thought that, considering the fact that she only did it for a moment before turning away, that somehow she knew what was going on, in some deeper, nonconscious part of herself, and was reassuring or encouraging me.
Anyway, I was securely very deep and felt that I wasn’t going to be suddenly disturbed from it unless, perhaps, I let it. But I really didn’t want to do that. I was rather scared and apprehensive most of the time, as mentioned, but, more importantly, it was all so damned interesting! There is no doubt that I was thoroughly enjoying the color, the panorama, the expanse and freedom of consciousness, the fact that I was experiencing something important and that I had never experienced before, so that I dearly wanted to stay there despite the fear.
Sometime after the gray place, I believe it was, I was aware of some kind of light far off in the distance that I could travel to if I liked. At around that time I could hear Maddie saying to somebody (about my body in bed): “Is he moving at all? Is he breathing? Do you think he’s dead?” and so on. I remember thinking to myself how silly that sounded and that “No, I’m not dead, I’m just in this deep trance and everything.” But then suddenly I began to wonder if maybe I was dead! It had all been so strange that maybe I had actually died in my sleep!
At that point I recalled the accounts I’d heard and read about of people dying and not knowing they were dead, how they would often hang around and watch other people’s reaction to their death (and this could go on for days). I remembered how Steve had once told me something to the extent that if that should happen that one shouldn’t get carried away and fascinated by the after-death state but that one should “get down on one’s knees” (figuratively speaking) and search out the source and the presence of God. Thinking that was perhaps when I actually looked around and saw the light.
At any rate, I found myself wondering if I wanted to be dead. This place was certainly an interesting one, even with the apprehensions. And it sure seemed to be a change (so far, anyway) from the constant struggling to survive and grow. But I also felt that there were just so many loose ends left unresolved in my life. There were so many areas that I’d made good progress in but had not yet taken to completion. My love for Maddie (next to me), which was only just beginning, came to my mind as an example.
And so I decided to find out if I was dead or not, both to know if I should go heading for the light (if I was) or to reassure Maddie (if I wasn’t). I determined to get into my body and, with an effort and strain, I forced myself up from the depths, forcing my body to move and sit up. I was mildly surprised to find that I was able to do this, bringing myself into physicality and into a half-sitting position. In this position I looked over to see Maddie sleeping next to me, I could hear the air conditioner whining, and so forth. I realized then that she hadn’t “physically” been sitting over me, talking about me, but I also felt that some part of her must have. (We used to have this thing when we slept together that often we would feel like we had been communicating with each other on some kind of subconscious level the whole night long. We wouldn’t ever remember all that we had said but we would often both remark about it the next morning).
Realizing that I wasn’t dead, I lay back down and let myself drift back into the deepness. All I remember, after this point, is talking to Maddie, probably about what had happened to me, explaining it to her, though I’m not sure that was all of it. Also I remember at least one other time, maybe two, forcing myself to waking consciousness to see if Maddie was awake (as if in an experiment), because it really seemed that we were actually, physically awake and talking to each other. I thought we were lying in bed physically talking. It was hard to believe it when I forced myself awake only to find her lying beside me asleep.
After that there were some actual dreams, quite different from what had been going on earlier. I fell into sleeping and dreamed of being in my grandmother’s home. I remember reading a book, sitting in a chair in her kitchen. There were other people there also; they were sitting in the same kind of straight-backed, none-too-comfortable wooden chairs.
I remember that early on, when I was doing all the traveling and stuff, that I didn’t know how I’d possibly remember all the experiences that happened to me and all the things that I saw and learned. It seemed like a lot of time was crammed into that short period. I remembered hoping just that I would retain as much of it as I could, especially hoping that I wouldn’t just blot it all out as it felt important.
Don’t Despair, There Are Others Doing It with You, and We’re Here, Too
I feel like the meaning of the part about the regeneration of the peoples on this plane was an answer to my despair at working on getting through my feelings. It’s like it was saying: “Sure it’s hard! What you’re talking about is the reversal of hundreds of generations of degenerate and violent habit, custom, and activity. But we’re talking about changing that also, and you’re not the only one working at it. There are many others in your time period struggling to do it just like you.”
And the feeling that left me with was/is “So don’t despair. There are others like you doing it, and we’re (out here) helping you too.”
The Sins of the Fathers
That concludes the entry of that day. Regardless of how you may wish to label the preceding experience, it remains one whose message has stayed with me through all the intervening nearly thirty-six years. It is a message that has rung true and helped me through other difficult spaces. In fact, I still reflect on it and cannot help believing there is a lot to it. Consider: Generation after generation of Western culture has engaged, with little awareness of the consequences, in passing down their personal pain and trauma, in some form or other, onto their offspring. And they in turn dump it on theirs. We know that child abusers were themselves abused as children; but this is just a very blatant example of how the pattern operates. On and on and back through into hazy unrecorded history this situation has existed; this vicious cycle has perpetuated itself.
But many of us in these extraordinary times, and goaded on by the specter of global catastrophe, for one thing are saying: “Let it end with me!”; “Let us not continue this madness any further!” Attempting to break the cycle of “kill and be killed,” of hurting and then inflicting hurt, attempting to halt the prevailing insanity, us wounded deer and centaurs make the Gandhian effort to take the energy into ourselves, to change ourselves lest we, also, be like the generation before — forever passing on the insane legacy.
So why should we think this would be easy?! We are trying to bring to an end, in our single lifetimes, the accumulated results of untold generations of our ancestors dumping their pain and insanity onto their descendants.
But Always Are We Here Helping
So of course it’s hard! And for me to realize this fact allows me to accept it. That is, it allows me to accept this task and to take up my place in the ranks of those arrayed in the purpose of undoing the craziness rather than to turn away in despair at the immensity of the task or to quaver in paralysis before it.
This experience has also provided me with a wonderful outlook on the people around me. I look around to the many people who are working spiritually to change themselves and this crazy world — who are serving, mending, and healing others and themselves. In doing so I have this sense of brother/sisterhood — that we are all engaged in an immense undertaking . . . that we are synergizing our energies in an endeavor which is not merely crucial, it is imperative . . . not just for our personal growth, for our personal satisfaction or well-being — although that’s not to be discounted — it is necessary for the very survival of this planet. We are all in this together, and many of us really know that now.
I feel that if this task had been easier it would have been done long ago by well-intentioned ancestors. Indeed, it may only be because the survival of this planet is now at stake that substantial numbers of us have at this point, finally, accepted the challenge.
Many of us are aware of the seeming intractability of the situation we face — both personally and globally. But what I feel now is not so much the despair at the difficulty of the task but rather, because of what I was taught through this experience, I feel a sense of belongingness, cosmic belongingness, if you will . . . a sense that I am not alone. I feel that many others are working at this same thing in this day and age. Our combined energies — along with the energies of the Universe that are working with us — together constitute an incredible force. Confronted with the enterprise we have before us, this force may just be sufficient to do on this planet what has never been done before here (as far as we know).
So to all who occasionally despair, I can only repeat, “Sure it’s hard, but always are we here helping you.” (“Now, get to work.” lol.)
Hopeful Things …
Psychedelics and the Worldwide Mind … Things to Foster:
The Profound Significance of Knowing and Experiencing Alternatives …
for the First Time in History
How Do We Pull Off the Most Exhilarating Revolution in Consciousness in Human Evolution?
So our task is hard, more difficult than any of us could have imagined at the start, still, how do we do it? And how do we succeed? In the next three chapters, as we are nearing the end of this book, let us take at least a brief look at what might be done to help along the process of consciousness change, personality change, and reconnection with our deepest human nature that this book is saying we must have in order to truly change the world … save the world. In works to be published in the next few years, I deal with this in greater detail.1 For now, let us consider at least some obvious things. What might make it easier and what could speed up the process, as it is imperative we do to survive? What are the catalysts for change around us; what are the resources available to us; and what are some of the hopeful and helpful things to have in mind?
I have written over and over in this book how primal therapy and holotropic breathwork were helpful, indeed instrumental, to me in changing. My first recommendation to anyone is to do what I have done, of course. Holotropic breathwork, for one, is readily available and relatively inexpensive.
Yet I realize not everyone can do … or can afford … that kind of commitment, especially as regards primal therapy. As well, we need this change to happen fast. We are in a race against time, as Grof wrote.2
In this chapter I want to present some thoughts on this and to point out a few avenues of possible light.
Can mind-expanding drugs be used to speed up or facilitate the process of getting past one’s primal and perinatal pain to be better able to access true spirituality? Can they help to transform consciousness quickly on a mass scale so as to save our species, our planet, and all the life — our planetmates — on it?
This is something I have thought a lot about. I have also researched it a fair amount.
First, I hope that some of that drug/psychedelic experience can work and will be used … for we need something badly. It has to happen more easily and more quickly than has been the case in the past. The fate of the world and all life on it depend on something happening quickly.
Remember, Stanislav Grof’s work began with his LSD research in the Fifties, as incidentally, did Frank Lake’s. Indeed, what Grof did afterward in developing his modality of holotropic breathwork was to try to find a way to get the benefits of non-ordinary states of consciousness … where healing occurs and where access to spiritual/transpersonal consciousness is had … without the risk or the messiness of the drug experience.
Profound Importance of Knowing Alternatives
Many drugs, in fact, give folks at least an opening and a vision of something better than they have ever known, which is an incredible thing in itself. For when one knows that one is fucked up, that there are better ways of being and states of feeling and consciousness outside of that of which one is familiar, and what a better way of being feels like, one has both the knowledge and direction to guide one, going forward.
Keep in mind, such a knowing has been impossible in former times, in many ways. Though, in long ago times and cultures far removed from the Western, access to psychedelic experience was greater, there was a huge block to knowing a better way of being for oneself or to imagining solutions to problems of self. This block is unassailable culture. This governor on personal growth is omnipresent culture, which surrounds, comforts, protects and stymies and blocks as thoroughly as any matrix … as represented in the movie of the same name.
As I just said, personal growth is only possible when one knows it is needed. In more isolated societies, where one is mostly unfamiliar with the alternatives that other cultures have for satisfying human needs and desires and for beingness itself, one cannot know very well that one’s culturally derived way of being is anything less than ideal, let alone know what is otherwise possible, no matter how onerous is that beingness or how evil and counterproductive are the acts of one’s own and the other personalities in one’s community.
One accepts whatever one has experienced and been taught through one’s culture as, not just familiar, which is a strong deterrent to change in itself, but also as unchangeable and unavoidable. This way of seeing everything is felt to be as final and unmovable as the stars in the skies. Quick examples: Even in modern, but less multicultural times, Freud did not know of any “normal” way of being other than one of “quiet desperation.” And Nazis, regardless of the brutality of their acts or the assaults they had upon one’s conscience, if one had one, or upon one’s humanity, could go about their abominable tasks thinking there was little alternative to do otherwise. One could also point to American culture in the South in the time of slavery. More about this in just a little bit when I discuss the hopeful spreading of multicultural awareness, worldwide.
Profound Importance of Experiencing Alternatives
Here, my point is that altered or nonordinary states of awareness provide a kind of multi-beingness, if you will, which for some can give rise to notions of what freedom, happiness, contentment, fulfillment, awareness, and the other goals of life truly are like, as experienced … not just as concepts or vague enticements. Alongside this, one can be enabled, through the experience of different feeling states, in finding pathways to such elusive human aims that one would never have been able to come up with through reason alone.
However, ideally, we would have a world where folks like myself, and others who are trained in facilitating others in nonordinary states of consciousness, would be allowed to give LSD in guided, supportive sessions in safe and open environments. Perhaps some other drugs will be discovered to have even greater potential to take us forward. DMT is currently being touted as the “spirit molecule.”3 Ecstasy has also been used for purposes of personal growth.4 Specifically, MDMA (ecstasy) has a significant, though underreported, history of use in psychotherapy.4 Amphetamine has also been used by many to give such a taste of another and happier way of being … but it is highly risky. Still, to be honest, amphetamine can provide openings to more loving ways of being, if it is not abused. And when abused, its effects can very often be the exact opposite of what is needed here.
There are other compounds being brought to worldwide attention, which can be thought of as resources toward these ends. This includes ibogaine. Ibogaine is a compound from a plant found in Africa and is said to be able to help folks get over addictions in a fast and effective way. Ibogaine and compounds of similar effect might help those who have driven into the ditch — a not uncommon thing — in their efforts to evolve.
Drugs of the psychedelic variety would certainly be so much faster and so much less expensive than the route I took … primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, meditation … and that others have been forced to, here to date.
What seems to be called for at this time in history is the same kind of effort that was brought to bear to “advance” civilization in the material and the technological sense to be focused on “advancing” human consciousness … er, actually, reversing human consciousness … to bring it more in line with our natural selves. To do so might bring about what is needed — a consciousness, and personality, that could navigate, negotiate, and rearrange the technological Pandora’s Jar we have opened in a way that it fosters and assists life, rather than undermines it as is currently happening. This coming together of a deeper human nature — an “advanced” consciousness for us at our current stage — and the technology we currently have in a way that they synergize rather than conflict is exactly what is meant by a primal renaissance, as I will explain more fully in a little bit.
However, working against this are the drugs being espoused currently by Western culture and being frantically sprinkled about to keep people in line and too content to object or to act on our dire problems. Antidepressants, specifically SSRIs, act to put blinders on minds. They are known to “help” people to be more “normal” — in the worst sense of that word. Indeed, what was discovered — Paxil was the specific SSRI studied — is that they reduce urges to act against any circumstances that are oppressive and induce a “conservative,” a conforming mindset.5 So just to note that is what we are up against.
Is LSD a Timely Gift?
As for the mind-expanding not mind-constraining drugs, if we consider what I was saying in the last chapter about the possibility that we might be being aided by beneficial powers or forces outside of our understanding, one might speculate that the timely discovery of these substances, LSD, in particular, might not have been just lucky or random. Certainly there is a spiritual way of looking at all events — one that is married well with the wounded deer and centauric mental set — which notices there is a perfection manifest in the Universe, which is only hidden from humans. But it is a perception that is pronoiac. This way of interpreting all events is the opposite of the paranoiac. In other words, as I demonstrate and elaborate upon for huge sections of my works, Experience Is Divinity (2013) and Funny God (2014), the feeling of pronoia is that the Universe is out to do good to you.6
This spiritual appreciation, characteristic of centaurs, is an apprehension that there is a superb synchronicity to all events, beyond anything we are capable of imagining. And that everything is a grand and precise symphony, of sorts, which we are better able to overstand and experience the further along we get in our personal and spiritual growth. From this perspective, we might see the emergence of and the understanding of the uses of these mind-expanding substances as being blessings, or aids, in pulling off this greatest of all, and most necessary of all, revolutions in consciousness and evolutions in our expanding to the feelings of compassionate unity, which is our essence, and which is our deepest human nature … our Divine human nature.
The Internet, the World-Wide Mind (WWM), Multiculturalism
One powerful but often overlooked factor in consciousness change has to do with our modern media and telecommunications and our postmodern multiculturalism. They are so pervasive and so woven through with our postmodern daily lives that we usually do not consider how much we are affected by them. And to see these forces, again, a contrast is needed.
I have a little help with that in having been around on this planet for a fair spell of time, sixty-five years, so I have experienced differences in my earlier years to what is pervasive and considered normal now. You can probably understand that in my knowing of an age before television, email, smart phones, and the internet, and instead with newspapers, “dumb phones,” and the postal service as the only means of connection across culture, space, and personality, I experienced a vastly different world and culture than we have today.
The amount of information one received in those times, especially of a kind that was different or even opposed to one’s cultural notions, was immeasurably less. Similarly, in the era before civil rights and feminism, the evils and injustices of racism — rampant at the time — and ethnocentrism, and misogyny … not to mention dominion over planetmates and separation from Nature, which are still pervasive … were virtually universally woven into one’s socialization.
Socialization is another word for enculturation, which is the gradual process though which, growing up, people learn the tenets and requirements of their surrounding cultures and acquire the behaviors and values necessary or appropriate to their culture. And during the time I was going through that, in the Fifties, such woefully dangerous and hateful cultural elements such as racism, sexism, gender bias, religious and sexual bigotry … including homophobia … ethnocentrism, and dominion over Nature were instilled in us all. These nefarious cultural elements determined one’s ideas and behaviors; and, what was worse — but is, happily, no longer true — one had little awareness of there being an alternative to that (an alternative to those ideas and behaviors) … let alone, as we have today, good and effective alternatives.
Again, Profound Importance of Knowing Alternatives
It is often the ones who are on the borderlines of cultures and ways, who have a contrast, who are most aware of cultural differences and are able to conceive of creative alternatives. These are also the qualities that stimulate genius, as Kuhn (1970), as well as others, have noted. One finds that it is often the one who bridged cultures or stages of life in her or his upbringing who becomes the anthropologist. The one who can lead others beyond their limitations is usually someone with this advantage as well. See, for example, Barack Obama, who experienced both African-American and Anglo ways growing up. The fact that we have increasingly more people aware of cultural alternatives is a reason for hope.
Strangely, however, this phenomenon is thought of as a development bringing danger and as fraught with what is thought to be reasonable foreboding. It is called “loss of national identity” or “loss of cultural identity,” when cultures get “watered down” or mixed this way. But the danger being feared is exactly of the kind of healing crisis I have been describing as being necessary. For culture, in this way, where it is more straitjacket than helpful, is simply the grander version of personal ego, which, now necessarily, must receive a thoroughgoing unraveling and replanting, more in line with our actual human nature, not our culturally taught one.
Psychologists also complain about loss of cultural identity because their values are rooted in a capitalist system that does not value personal growth or long-term happiness but values productivity and temporary relief of or freedom from symptoms in order to bring about the behaviors of work and conformity to society that bring about such productivity. But in postmodern awareness — an understanding that sees beyond the constraints put upon us by economic systems — we, as psychologists, can assert that there is nothing at all negative in loss of cultural identity when it is replaced by an expanded identity with humanity and a global transnational consciousness and an identity united with Nature and cognizant of the consciousness and beingness of all life forms. Indeed, we as ecopsychologists need to set the record straight with traditional psychologists — particularly ego psychologists who support the idea of an ego strength being necessary — that ego is of no help in these times when the fate of the life on this planet is at stake.
Multiculturalism and the Worldwide Mind (WWM)
So among the hopeful and helpful things is this most recent phenomenon of full-gallop multiculturalism and a pervasive and interconnected worldwide mind (the wwm). They go together because the internet and social media, with convenient online applications that for the first time in history are able to translate from one language to another and to allow communication across cultures never before possible, contributes exponentially to understanding between peoples of different cultures and to the merging and intermixing of cultural elements.
Again, whereas conservative-minded and fearful academics and psychologists, operating in the paradigm of the “modern,” following very old-fashioned information from Freud and the newer proclamations of the same sorts of things put out by ego psychologists, would contend that this undermines the consolidation of ego and so weakens the necessary ego strength, a more postmodern and primal understanding is that such coming together of elements contributes to grander integrations of personality and even “ego.” In such individuals, barriers between peoples and cultures are easily transcended and new cultural and personality items created that are more in line with the needs of the moment. Obviously this kind of malleable ego, open to change — as opposed to the strong but defended and defensive ego, which characterizes the culturally monolithic — is more likely to be helpful and appropriate in our current emergencies of all kinds — cultural, political, and environmental.
In a very compelling way, Tom Robbins demonstrates this different, less culturally bound, individual in the character of Alobar from his novel, Jitterbug Perfume (1984). He dramatizes the perfect postmodern response to problems resulting from cultural prescriptions and proscriptions which do not mesh with reality as seen from the perspective of many cultures not just the blinders of one. Quite simply, the answer is, “Don’t do it!” Don’t participate in the insanity. Walk away from it.
Expressed in a real world way, the same idea comes out in the idea put out by peace movements everywhere, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” In Robbins’s novel, it might be phrased, “What if in India they gave a suicidal burning to death for the widow of a recently deceased man and the widow said, ‘No’?” Or, “What if a society had a practice of killing its leader at the first sign of old age, and the ruler simply snuck away?” You see what I am getting at?
Yes, Alobar simply walks away. In the same way, wars would end if young men and women would be more exposed to other cultures, especially that of their enemy, and they would simply not show up for or participate in their militaries. This kind of exposure to other cultures is fed by the knowledge coming forth in the social sciences — particularly anthropology and sociology — but beyond the academy it is flooding all societies and cultures with a mixing of peoples and their ways and a dialogue, via the internet and social media, across and integrating all cultures. These factors contribute to understanding across cultures and between genders and individuals. In facilitating a mutual or shared understanding outside of cultural dictates, it makes possible creative, postmodern, and workable solutions to the world’s problems, not just the concerns of the singular individual, the interests of one gender over another, or the views of one nation as opposed to another. This is the main reason conservatives of all times have been at war with new information and have sought to suppress it.
So, there is hope in this positive coming together of peoples, cultures, and personalities. It catalyzes a process of going beyond the constraints and counterproductive strategies of cultures — strategies that fit with modern and premodern times and peoples but would be suicidal if continued in the face of a changing world with too many people in it, who are thrust together and forced to scramble over dwindling resources, and all within an environment perilously close to implosion.
Not So Relative Culture
What is unique about the perspective being advanced in this book is that it is directly at odds with the common pretensions of social science and psychology. These include the idea in anthropology of cultural relativism — that all cultures are equal and cannot be compared, for in the sense that they exist and continue, they are considered “successful.” The “sanity” of a culture or society is, then, defined as the fact that it exists and persists over time, thereby organizing and at least minimally “satisfying” the needs of its members. I feel an urge to make a snide comment that Hitler was also rather successful, as was Nazi society and culture. So also was the pre-emancipation South in America.
Now that that is off my chest, let me continue by saying that supporting cultural relativism, the question is often put out, “From the mores of which culture would one evaluate another culture anyway?” The idea is that to avoid ethnocentrism, cultural value judgments cannot be made. Indeed, anthropologists often contend that cultures are totally incommensurate with each other: They are likened to enclosed systems, with no one from one culture truly being able to understand another’s.7
However, this tenet in anthropology was embraced in an era before we realized just how insane cultures and societies can be. How would one judge? Well, if a culture or society is leading to worldwide murder, suicide, and ecocide, it is about time we claim a universal value around minimalizing pain and of the value of life as opposed to death that transcends cultural relativism and would be applicable in evaluating all societies. In that sense, we must look at the long-term sustainability of a culture. One that leads to the death of its members, that is, the extinction of its society, at some point in the future, might be considered less viable than (less “successful” than), and can be judged from, a culture that has longer term viability.
Certainly, along that measure, Nazi culture and Southern culture are lacking. Indeed, one might use the same measuring stick to evaluate civilization itself — which is a kind of meta-culture. As compared with the meta-cultures of our earliest forebears — who had a subsistence, a non-sedentary, a non-hierarchical one, and one in which goods were not accumulated and stored for long periods of time, all of which are distinctly at odds with civilization, and which relied on gathering and hunting as an economic system and was nomadic — civilization comes up severely lacking. For hunter-gatherer meta-culture served humans for hundreds of thousands of years. Meanwhile, civilization seems to be the poison pill that will destroy all life within a mere ten-thousand years or less of its dominance as a way for humans to be.
As I wrote in Experience Is Divinity (2013), from within the domains of culture, there needs to be a cultural relativity and there is no basis for comparison of cultures … they are incommensurate. But standing upon the deeper paradigm of our common biology, our species biology, comparisons can be made … and should be made, actually. For a culture that fosters inordinate pain, suffering, and or death, and the injustice that would have to be coincident with that, can be seen to be less or lacking in comparison to the culture that provides a harmonious union of needs, felicity, and cultural items.
This problem arises in the first place out of patriarchal values — culturally rooted ones themselves — which has it that power and efficacy are the predominant or only values as opposed to felicity, pleasure, and life-valuing, which are “feminine” values. It is part of the separation from Nature that characterizes civilization and its “transcendent” (separate from Nature and the body) values … in this case the abstracted intellectualizations of academics. For only patriarchal, abstracted, separate-from-the-body-and-Nature-type folks could manage to not notice the body with its pain, birth, death, emotions, and suffering and not see that all cultures must have a relation to them, must deal with them, and that some do better than others and that that is an, external to culture, “good” thing to do! It is a basis for comparison of cultures … they are “commensurate” … that is, they are measurable and comparable, “point by point.”7 Those points especially being biological facts related to suffering, pain, and death.
So cultural relativists do not realize just how culturally ethnocentric they are being in proposing radical cultural relativism. They are actually espousing a kind of transcendence beyond the physical, an espousal of transcendent platonic principles outside of culture related to power, efficacy, and productivity, which are actually the values of very limited patriarchal societies and cultures. “Matriarchal,” feminine values, in contradistinction, are those of felicity, peace, pleasure, love, compassion, life as opposed to death, contentment and other things related to states of the body, which all humans, in all cultures experience … to greater or lesser degrees.
Not So Out-of-Bounds Leaders and Nations
The tenet that this book’s perspective challenges in psychology is the one that has it that psychologists cannot … actually, if they were to be honest, should not … engage in psychoanalysis or any kind of interpretation or analysis, psychologically, of leaders, groups, and so on. However, this proscription came out of political considerations to begin with.
Operating within a supposedly “democratic” system where leaders are chosen by the vote, a kind of “equal time” provision, similar to what is adopted in television to help toward fairness in coverage of candidates, was marshalled in to psychology as well. It was advanced, and then embraced, that since any side could put out propagandists to discredit the other side’s leaders, that psychologists should not get involved in looking into the early childhood and histories of its leaders for clues about the decisions they make while in power. In this sense, psychologists, seeking to avoid the messiness of conflicting and politically motivated analyses, chose instead to run away from confrontation.
So, this was not a scientific decision but a psychological one — one rooted in personal dynamics of particular individuals who feared confrontation in their personal lives and had not the time or the inclination to be themselves politically aware. It might also have received help from the fact that psychologists, like academics in general, are dependent upon moneyed interests for their funding. Looking into the dark undersides of political figures aligned with those moneyed folks would hardly fit with the profitability or advancement of their careers, and psychologists and all academics know this. Thus, psychologists rationalized turning their personal preferences and their financial and career interests into psychological tenets that others were supposed to adhere to. Again, as in the cultural example from anthropology, the reformers ended up instituting the very “diseases” their proscriptions were meant to allay.
Beyond their personal lives, they sought, as well, to avoid political controversy and confrontation in their associations and organizations. I have much personal experience with this as it comes out in associations. What that proscription of political awareness or communication is really about is that these organizations seek to expand their ranks and attract people to their field by putting on airs of detached professionalism … to those ends as well as for personal ego reasons … rather than go after truth which might have one venturing into areas that are controversial, confrontational, and messy … regardless of their being so much more interesting! In this sense, then, such associations are directly at odds with a work such as this which insists that knowledge requires an activist response and is of no use in isolation from society.
Similarly opposed to this notion that foreswears inquiry into the personalities of leaders and the psychological patterns of national events, we have the field of psychohistory and the fields of social commentary in which Lloyd deMause, Erich Fromm, and Alice Miller write. DeMause’s psychohistory aims to put “society on the couch,” for example. Erich Fromm (1955) in writing The Sane Society directly challenged the idea that cultures should not be investigated as to their rightness, or their desirability. Alice Miller wrote detailed analyses of Nazi society and culture and related it to patterns of child-”rearing” in German culture.8 The field of psychohistory has published much along the same lines regarding Nazi culture and the psychological roots of its insanity, along with analyses of many other nations and leaders and national events. Stanislav Grof, to some extent as well, has written on the psychological underpinnings of Nazi and other cultures. Such critiques of cultures are implicit in his findings regarding individual psychology and health and are scattered through his works.
At any rate, this approach has it, resonating with my assertion of there being an underlying biological paradigm of pleasure-pain and life-death against which cultures can be compared, that there are biological and psychological needs that provide markers against which one can evaluate societies and leaders.
Next, Helpful Things
In sum, to the category of hopeful things … things to foster, we need to include the factor of the psychedelics, which allow people to experience alternatives to the experiential set dictated by their personalities, as imprinted by their early experiences. As well, we need to consider the influence of the postmodern revolution in telecommunications and the electronic media, especially the Internet, the WorldWide Mind, in facilitating a coming together of all thinkers globally, and along with it precipitating an erosion of ego, national, and other strict views, which leave out or cast aspersions on others, including other life forms (species).
To these hopeful things, let us now look at some helpful things, things that are already in motion, catalysts for change and things we can rely on. In the next chapter, Chapter 30, we look at the influence of television which unwittingly has introduced better ways of parenting, better communications between people, better ways of being with each other and of being in relationship, and evolved attitudes toward race, religion, sexual preference, and gender differences to a worldwide audience comprising all classes of people … for the first time ever in history.
Helpful Things and Catalysts … Sitcom Socialization and Talk-Show Soul-Searching:
Television and a “Quantum Leap” in Parenting … the Cultural Evolution Curmudgeons Cannot See
Television’s Profound … and Misunderstood … Role
Regarding the positive effects of this explosion of technology in the areas of telecommunications and media and the positive elements involved in exposure to contrasting cultural elements and even cultural items in direct conflict with one’s own, I wish to share one more personal story. This has to do with the effect of television on cultural and personal evolution as well as with what is often considered to be mindless, even “sappy,” sitcoms of TV’s earliest era.
I feel compelled to say this because of a fatigue I have with the tedious old complaints of adult generations who are perennially up in arms over new cultural elements, forever pointing out the trite qualities, if not outright devilish designs, of such cultural changes. Curmudgeonly responses to changing cultural elements are hardly science; irritated expressions of doom and dismay put out by obviously frustrated and overwhelmed old farts of different generations and their conforming underlings of younger generations are hardly wise, let alone intelligent. Yet here we have decades of social science and social and political commentary decrying the cultural effects of low-brow culture, especially that of reality shows, talk shows, and the much maligned sitcom.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I hate most sitcoms just as much as the next person. And I would find myself just as nauseous to be forced to sit through an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians as the best of us. Yet in Apocalypse NO (2013), I pointed to reality shows and talk shows as two of the cultural forces that are aiding our personal and cultural changes to the new forms required for survival. And to this I added sitcoms. Let me tell you why.
We see the workings of opposing tendencies to look away from problems — denial and stagnation — or to embrace them — personal growth and cultural change and progress — by examining the reactions in America in the Nineties to the collapse of the Soviet Union just prior to that. On the side wishing denial and continued ignorance, the disappearance of this huge object for distraction from inner unhappiness, an entity about which one could rationalize the use of defensiveness and scapegoating, led to continued turning away from personal and cultural problems through the emergence, in America, of a search for other societal scapegoats and therefore the “Republican revolution.” Culture War replaced the Cold War as the way one could be comfortably ignorant of one’s insides and self-assuredly distracted, self-righteously engaged.
However, another tendency — one toward growth and change — was also born. In America, we saw, beginning in the Nineties and significantly after the removal of the collective punching bag or scapegoat of the Soviet Union, a healthy turning toward the “darkness” within and a collective self-analysis in America. This reaction brought to the fore many of our social and political shortcomings, however woefully inadequate it showed itself to be in addressing our environmental problems.
Indeed, these two different reactions to the loss of a scapegoat actually was the culture war being proclaimed at that time.
Talk Show Soul-Searching
For evidence of the second, the healthier, response we notice beginning in the Nineties the rise of the talk show; the rituals of nationwide self-examination over issues of sexual harassment, spouse abuse, and race relations played out in the Anita Hill – Clarence Thomas hearings and the O. J. Simpson trial; the hashing out of controversial and formerly hidden personal issues around sex, lies, and marital fidelity, played out in the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal; the reevaluation of matters of faith precipitated by priestly sexual abuse; and many other such national psychodramas staged on cable news networks and the magazine-style, documentary-type TV shows like Frontline, Nightline and the like.
We also witnessed the rise of reality shows as part of this societal pull to see beneath the covers of what is thought to be real. Now, progressives and intellectuals have lots of fun vamping about how superior they themselves are to such interests, as exemplified in reality shows. This can only be the position of elitists out of touch with the ways ordinary folks live their lives.
To make my point, let me back up a bit. The swagger that the Left, and intellectuals in general, display around reality shows is the same superiority they have expressed for decades concerning sitcoms. First, let me say that I consider most sitcoms and reality shows to be rather boring and a bit inane with their laugh and soundtrack framing.
Yet, when I was a child, growing up in a medium-sized city in the coal country of Pennsylvania and coming from a very traditional family, it was only through such sitcoms that I had a chance to find out what a different style of family and parenting would be. Today, I would laugh at a Father Knows Best. Actually, it would bore me to tears. But when I was a grade-schooler, what I saw on the show was a step up and into better socialization from the “Father Knows Little” or “Father Not Around” of many in my social stratum when I was a kid. This exposure allowed me, and many of my generation, to seek for more in our life and for better interpersonal family relationships … and eventually better parenting.
This presentation of better alternatives — middle-class, liberal, “hollywood” ones — to everyone in America has a lot to do with the fact that the Sixties were so explosive. It was the first decade after the introduction of a national culture through the medium of television. Much has been made of the fact that newscasts brought information into living rooms for the first time in that era — which is the factor in the change that was observed that academics and intellectual elitists will focus on, blinded by their quaint beliefs that humans are rational actors. It takes an experiential psychologist and social scientist like myself to notice that most folks act out of ideas and attitudes that are rooted in experiences and information that are hardly rational.
So, the modeling of a more “advanced” way of family life — not perfect but for many better than the traditional ways they had known, which included things like spanking and attitudes like “children are to be seen not heard” and “spare the rod, spoil the child” — through the TVs and cinemas of America was vastly more influential in changing society than newscasts, whose information could just as easily have been shared through the print media. The sitcoms brought liberal middle-class values, especially those relevant to a more advanced child-caring, to everyone in America who owned a TV set; and this was a huge step forward at the time. And this is exactly why conservatives turned red at the thought of it.
A Modern “Priesthood”
This is where Righties are correct when looking to “hollywood” for many of the changes in our culture over the last sixty years … though they see that as a negative influence. But intellectuals and Lefties blow an opportunity and lose support among ordinary folks through an unconscious haughtiness and a cultural snobbery they are blind to but display in their turning up their noses at popular culture. Luckily, as an anthropological social scientist, I can study popular culture and get away with it, though not without some snide commentary coming my way from progressive and professional circles.
They simply will never understand an intellectual who can speak to working folks because he is one of them. They simply do not get my attempts to package the crucial understandings of modern science and social sciences, on which the existence of our very world depends, in words that are not primarily directed to and meant to appease the gods of academia. They consider themselves important within their tiny professional circles, thinking they are changing the world, when no one even knows what they are doing beyond that constrained perimeter.
Keeping the People Down
Indeed, the attitude of academics and progressives about popular culture, especially talk and reality show TV programming and although they would be appalled to ever think it, is no different from the attitudes of the Catholic Church and the clergy about matters of faith during medieval times. There, too, we had an elite wanting to “keep out the unwashed.” There, too, we had a distinction between people in the know and the rabble, with the anointed ones requiring ordinary folks to go through them for matters of truth and faith. We had then also this sharp distinction between the “high culture” of the Church and aristocracy — exemplified in the chamber and symphony music of the time — and the “low culture” of the masses — exemplified by the folk music of the troubadours of that day.
Nowadays this poo-pooing of TV culture by intellectuals is the same kind of attempt to funnel reality to the masses, this time through the filters of a new “priesthood.” The cultural purists and intellectual elites would prefer that for truth you go through them in academia, where you have to pay a toll of course, just as the priests of the Middle Ages required you to pass their way on the road to the Divine.
Therapy for the Masses
At any rate, throwing off the snootiness of intellectualism, I contend, allows us to notice that sitcoms, reality shows, and talk shows serve functions in society that are, overall, beneficial in advancing our culture and catalyzing increased growth. They may not reflect, yet, where intellectuals and progressives think we should be, but for many they show something beyond where they are.
We should know that they are overall helpful in our cause from the fact that conservatives want to attack hollywood and limit freedom of expression on any airwave. That many reactionaries want to keep their children out of schools, home-schooled, and away from TV sets should be telling progressives something about the value of popular culture.
My point is that the rise in reality and talk shows are coincident with a need for a kind of societal “therapy” that came about when America took back its projections from the Soviets and was forced to look at itself. I am saying this was a healthy way of doing it, and this was helping us, though it was tumultuous and difficult, in the Nineties. It is unfortunate — though it suited the forces of war and fascism — for the 1% to bring forth in the millennium the bugaboo of terrorism. Terrorism served perfectly in bringing about another endless feud with another concocted enemy to project our own darknesses onto so we could escape from having to notice them ourselves and bring about actual personal growth and cultural advance … let alone the cultural rebirth that has been trying to happen for decades.
Reality shows are like watching group therapy happening. It is not surprising that there was even one reality program that was about therapy — Celebrity Rehab. Reality shows also expose ordinary folks to what amounts to crude but informative sociological experiments. If academics could see beyond their pretensions they would applaud this sort of, however haphazard and imprecise, understanding of group processes and individual psychology arising in the masses.
If reality shows did not exist, folks would have a harder time knowing appropriate ways for men and women to act with each other. The gains of feminism would not have spread so widely or as fast if they were not being modeled and reinforced repeatedly on talk and reality shows.
The same thing applies to civil rights and to combatting racism. That is another development raising the ire of Righties. Reality shows demonstrate respectful and effective ways for men and women to interact; they show a racial and sexual preference neutrality that is laudable and ahead of and leading the rest of Western culture; and they depict parenting and social skills — “politically correct” ones, in the good sense — to folks who would otherwise not know any better than to behave crudely and abusively. This powerful catalyst for change on social issues such as these infuriate people who are terrified of change … another reason for reactionary rage over TV and hollywood. Lefties should keep in mind from whose camp — a right-wing, conservative one — they are sallying forth in their charges against the popular media.
Overall, the much maligned reality, sitcom, and talk shows bring the world, geography, travel, and history to the masses. In this sense they are powerful in bringing down the walls of monolithic culture and catalyzing the multiculturalism of such bright promise!
Intellectuals quibble about the quality of that information, which whining comes across as quite childish. For it arises as if out of a jealousy of others getting the attention academics want and out of a fear of competition for informational matters around science, culture, and humanities. It strikes me as more than ironic that those on the Left who would wish people to wake up from their zombie slumber would want to push programs of literature or drama where truths are filtered through the consciousness, and unconscious, of the artist, while wishing to deprive folks of a direct look — however contrived, it is actual reality and not scripted — at the world around them and at people’s actual unplanned behavior and spontaneous reactions to unusual events. Such knowledge, indeed, is more likely to stimulate artistic expression rather than induce people to be passive consumers of culture created by another elite — artists and writers.
Seeing people’s behavior in some of these reality shows does often remind me of the dynamics I have seen in therapy groups, and some of the personal changes in the participants mirror some of the evolutions I have watched unfold in folks undergoing deep experiential psychotherapy. The audience participation part often sounds like group therapy or an intervention. I have been struck by how some of the group processes in the shows remind me of family day in rehab, with folks reflecting back what they see in each other and how others’ behavior has affected them. These are all things that conservatives cringe at … actually hate. Yet liberals, except for notable exceptions like Jerry Springer, are not seeing the opening they have here. Lefties are fighting rather than using these forces, which are in the direction of personal growth and, cumulatively, much needed societal change.
As a psychologist and simply someone who loves people, I am fascinated by some of the things I see in these shows. They can be heart-wrenchingly real at times. So it occurs to me that folks who disparage these shows, comparing them with literature and dramatic productions, is another thing where some are wanting to have their reali