Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Prophecy for the new Gregorian year

I posted this to the 2012 discussion board on Tribe.net.

Here is an interesting collection of articles on RIFD technology, aka “The Mark of the Beast.”

For those who haven’t seen it, check out the 2005 UN Ecosystems Assessment here. The oceans are 90% fished out, most of the world’s ecosystems are on the point of collapse, resources severely depleted, etcetera.

It sure is fun – all this speculating about 2012, the return of the Goddess, Thelemic Magick, indigenous prophesies, light working, and all the rest.

However, a question goes unaddressed: How are we going to change the world situation and actually salvage this planet before it is too late? How much time do we have? How are we going to work together to get this done? What is our plan of action?

(In what follows, I am going to use the words “We” and “Our” rhetorically, referring to the group I consider to be the evolutionary edge of the progressive movement, integrating spiritual, ecological, political, social, technological perspectives - represented at Burning Man, on Tribe, etc.)

Our time to come up with a strategy and then flawlessly execute it can probably be measured in months, perhaps a year or two, max.

As we all must know, we are currently in the midst of a mass extinction crisis. David Ulansey has documented this at length: www.well.com/user/davidu/extinction.html. Within thirty years, 25 percent of all species will be extinct. By that point, we may well have entered an inevitable situation of complete biospheric collapse and self-extinction. If we are going to avert the worst and totalizing effects of this crisis, we cannot start in two or three years – we have to start now.

At the same time, we can see that the US Government’s response to New Orleans/Katrina is a template for establishing martial law, Banana-Republic-style, when things start to go haywire due to deteriorating climate and resource-scarcity, which they will soon. The Pentagon may have some extraordinary contingency plans at their disposal. I don’t think we will like them.

Clearly, technology is an important piece of the puzzle in how we can turn this situation around. We have the quickly evolving capacity of the Internet to function as a multimedia hub, and, at the same time, the extraordinary evolution in tools for creating media. There is no longer any use for the corporate media (and I believe they are becoming aware of this), and no way that media monopolization can function, unless the Internet itself is shut down. We are in a short, potentially revolutionary moment when the tools for creating culture have been fully democratized and put in our hands. But as of yet, I see few people putting these tools to the uses that they need to be put if we are going to change/save the situation in the time available to us.

It is not enough to speak to an “in” group, to be witty, to be cute. We have to employ media with the same seductive savvy that the mainstream media has used it – but repurposed to express a new and integrated consciousness: ecological, political, spiritual, social. The nascent awareness I see, at times, on this discussion board – and at events such as Burning Man. But we don’t have the time to distract ourselves anymore. Now is the time for disciplined work and action. There is no time left for sentimentality, navel-gazing, and the like.

In the same way that the tiny coterie of the Beats gave way to the global mass movement of the hippies in just a few short years, those of us who have been studying these ideas and keeping the countercultural flame alive now have the opportunity to inspire a huge upsurge in the collective will, especially among younger people.

Artists and thinkers no longer have any excuses. If your vision is greater or deeper, if it deserves to be heard, now you can prove it – the tools are there for you, and the potential audience is vast. This is your moment. Create the audience you deserve – but put the interests of the planet ahead of your own.

Beyond media, the Net can be used for establishing support and trust-based networks that are a rocket-shot beyond what something like Tribe is capable of. This, also, should be done right away. I am working on some of these ideas with friends, starting a media and membership company, Evolver (www.evolverproject.com). Working on this project has made me painfully aware of how hard it is to get things done at the speed they need to be done, without significant economic support, or without the trust and faith of a larger community willing to give its time and energy to efforts that might be transformative.

If we are going to stop species extinction, evict the current regime from power before it permanently closes down our world, and solve the many other difficult problems facing global humanity (Peak Oil, for instance), we are going to have to learn how to think and work together, how to collaborate and focus, on a much deeper level than we have ever imagined before. Turning back species extinction, for instance, would require a massive redistribution of resources and extraordinary attention to local ecologies across the planet. It can be done – but it will require a huge upgrade in the level and quality human consciousness to make this happen.

I suggest that this upgrade is what is being asked from us, right now.



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Monday, December 12, 2005

Ecodelic

Very interesting work by Richard Doyle of Penn State, suggesting LSD and other psychedelics catalyzed engineering breakthroughs by allowing visualization and unleashing of the creative imagination, beyond the limits of verbal or linear logic.

Ecodelic

Before their possession became a criminal offense in the United States, tryptamines (e.g. Psilocybin), phenethylamines (e.g. mescaline), and Cannabinoids (e.g. Cannabis Sativa and Indica, THC) were given to engineers and designers to break "creative logjams" and promote innovation in the Cold War United States. In the late 1950's and early 1960's, for example, the Ampex Corporation(inventor of the Video Tape Recorder) studied the effects of LSD and mescaline on their engineers, and the result was a growing body of literature and data on tryptamine and phenethylamine "regimens" and their effects on technical innovation.These regimens included precise and intensive rhetorical practices such as the epigraph above – although essentially ineffable, psychedelic experience was treated as fundamentally and essentially programmable. This talk will look to the history of these highly programmed human subject trials and the role of rhetorical practices in them in order to evaluate more recent claims by inventors and researchers such as Mitch Kapor (Lotus, spreadsheets), Mark Pesce(Virtual Reality Markup Language) and Kary Mullis (Polymerase Chain Reaction) that psychedelics played an integral role in the invention of their breakthrough technologies. Given the importance of programming to psychedelic experience, the talk will suggest that psychedelic adjuncts were useful to engineers and scientists less because they "expanded" consciousness than because they catalyzed a practiced progamming of affect, a programming whose signature is a successful dwelling with massive and often transhuman interconnectivity. Perhaps meditation is the first design practice of an evolutionary response to such a design environment, as one must become still in order to navigate the overwhelming informational landscape that ensues: both the psychedelic and the transhuman condition encounter enormous amounts of information, an onslaught navigable only through a practiced letting go.Successful "programming" of psychedelic experience drew on old code indeed to manage the unfamiliar affects: mystic and shamanic practices have left an archive from which researchers have sampled, a psychedelic commons. Audio and visual adjuncts for psychedelic experience such as chants, music, mantra and imbricated images (such as [mandala]) appeared to work as devices for orienting but not determining the exorbitant and difficult to communicate multiplicity that is psychedelic experience. The talk will close with a sugggestion that users and designers of interactive technologies integrate the tropes of this old code to help highly networked, mobile and volatile wetware adjuncts recall their participation in the biological systems as well as technical systems with which they are enmeshed, "the moist, pulsating pattern." Such psychedelic or "life manifesting" technologies indeed put the ego and its ontologies into dissarray, but in so doing they invite the evolution of dissipative structures capable of a sustainable interaction with complexity, the partipatory and co-evolutionary superorganism Lynn Margulis, James Lovelock and William Golding dubbed "Gaia" in their sampling of Greek tradition. This capacity for consciousness to reflect on and tune its own ecosystemic conditions enables us to become search engines for dissipative structures with an increased capacity to process information through the momentary breakdown of symmetry.TrippingOnThePast

Wiki: EcoDelic


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Grist piece on Ganz

Harvard sociologist Marshall Ganz is interviewed in Grist. A former Civil Rights activist in the 60s, Ganz studies "social movements, and the ways in which leadership and direction are nurtured. Now he focuses on finding ways to revitalize democratic organizations, develop their leadership, and engage their members -- work that he says is critical to rebuilding a base of political power on the left," according to Dicum, of Grist. He has spent the last two years studying the Sierra Club, focusing on how membership organizations such as Sierra can better utilize their human resources to make change. Here are some excerpts from his interview:


Traditionally, membership associations, volunteer organizations, and advocacy organizations provided connective tissue between citizens and government, and public policy in general. There's been a substantial breakdown in that over the last 30 or 40 years, and it's left a vacuum.

...

The word leadership figures heavily in your work. What do you mean when you use it?

Leadership is not just someone giving a good speech. Leaders are people actually capable of mobilizing other people and getting them engaged in public life and public action. Participation isn't just a million individuals making individual choices: it's a social activity in which some people take responsibility to mobilize others.

This may sound simplistic, but leadership means knowing how to have a good meeting: how to hear all sides, how to make a decision, how to include different points of view. It's not a particularly mysterious skill set, but if people haven't been trained in it, or they've only learned it as individuals and not as a group, then they don't know how to do it.

...

do you see as promising sources for leadership on the left? Where do people get it?

I think if the Sierra Club buys into [the idea that it can be an incubator for leadership] it can have a huge impact on the environmental movement. Unions are [also] very important, the SEIU [Service Employees International Union] in particular, and a reenergized labor movement could really help with this. There's a lot of activity in new immigrant communities -- they're much friendlier to this kind of approach and have had more success with it. Churches have a lot of experience in working in the way that I'm describing. That's mainly benefited the right; it could benefit the left.

absent from that list are political parties.

Well, the logical thing would be political parties, and in any other industrial democracy it would be a political party. But we have such a screwy electoral system ... political parties have become marketing instruments: it's all about polling and about message and message delivery. There's really no investment in, interest in, or even understanding of organization building. In the 2004 election, even ACT [America Coming Together] and the other groups were all canvassing operations, which is simply a way of marketing person-to-person as opposed to marketing over the phone. But actually creating collective capacity, organizing groups, developing leadership, and creating organizational capacity? That wasn't happening -- that's what was missing.

...

For many years, the model of large organization in America was representative organization. Then, toward the end of the 19th century, corporate organization became an alternate model. One was about representation, the other was about control.

So now, as the interests and constituencies represented by large organizations like unions have been losing ground, and as this whole market thing has come to be so dominant since Reagan, and public institutions themselves have been increasingly viewed as illegitimate, everybody says, "Well, we gotta do everything like the private sector; we have to do everything like the market."

It means that creative, intelligent individuals can legitimate a way of operating that doesn't require them to engage with a constituency, to educate, to lead, to bring people together -- to do the kinds of things that people used to have to do to earn leadership in a large organization. It lends itself to a very elitist approach to social change.

Yeah, I've noticed a lot of executive directors recently calling themselves CEOs.

Oh yeah. They call them CEOs, they have marketing plans. See, the language is a real giveaway: the language expresses an understanding of how organizations work that makes them basically a question of command and control. And so you wind up with this pull to make advocacy groups look more and more like firms: with boards of directors, managers, efficiency tests, and so forth -- not as inclusive, mobilizing social movements or democratic organizations, which is a really different proposition.

---


Ganz's interview is highly pertinent to the Evolver Project, which we hope to develop into a large membership organization. The people involved in this, with a few notable exceptions, do not have the background in the kind of mobilizing organizations that he describes. It will be interesting to see if we can develop those tools and skills for activating other people and nurturing local networks.


climate controls not working

An article in today's times notes that the strategy for creating international protocols for reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses is a failed one. The article notes:

Indeed, from here on, progress on climate is less likely to come from megaconferences like the one in Montreal and more likely from focused initiatives by clusters of countries with common interests, said Mr. Benedick, who is now a consultant and president of the National Council on Science and the Environment, a private group promoting science-based environmental policies.

The only real answer at the moment is still far out on the horizon: nonpolluting energy sources. But the amount of money being devoted to research and develop such technologies, much less install them, is nowhere near the scale of the problem, many experts on energy technology said.

It is increasingly obvious that the massive structural problems facing contemporary society cannot be solved by the institutions and organizations that have contributed to them. We clearly need new systems that can handle the climactic and ecological crisis, which really requires a complete redesign of society. It does seem that the socially networking potentials of the Internet provide the only possible infrastructure for a deep transformation and rational use of the resources and time we have remaining before the global situation disintegrates beyond anyone's control.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

burning man comic book

This is wonderful!

Monday, November 28, 2005

aliens on their way?

What will the aliens be like? Will we want to invite them to dinner?

According to this yahoo story, a former Canadian Minister of Defense believes we had better start thinking about this. I agree with him:

PRWEB) - OTTAWA, CANADA (PRWEB) November 24, 2005 -- A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.”

By “ETs,” Mr. Hellyer and these organizations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation. He said, "The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today."

I agree with the perspective of William Irwin Thompson, who wrote: “The meeting we are expecting in front of us in linear time has already occurred, is now occurring, and will continue to occur." Advanced aliens “do not talk to us, they play with us through our history. ... Our subjective-objective distinctions about reality are incorrect. As in the world view of the Hopi Indians, Matter, Energy, and Consciousness form a continuum.”


Friday, November 25, 2005

Schell on The Fall of Empire

Reading Jonathan Schell's new piece in The Nation, Fall of the One-Party Empire, I get that familiar creeping sensation again, the one warning me that most liberal and progressive commentators have a wrong angle on what is happening these days, and are spewing their volumes of punditry into the void. Schell is correct that
... the aim of Republican strategy has been a Republican Party that permanently runs the United States and a United States that permanently runs the world. The two aims have been driven by a common purpose: to steadily and irreversibly increase and consolidate power in GOP hands, leading in the direction of a one-party state at home and a global American empire abroad.
But the notion that a handful of indictments and a bit of assertiveness on the part of the Justice Department means that "democracy, after years of decline, has gained the upper hand," is absurd wish-fulfillment.

For the purposes of this Blog entry, I cannot go into the many factors and analyses that have led me to conclude that the underlying institutions of our country are so deeply compromised and corrupted that no reform is possible. That is a determination that each individual must make for themselves, after reviewing the available data and utilizing their intuition as well as their sharpest reasoning faculties. While Schell argues,
The institutions of government and the economy, drawn like iron filings into the magnetic field of power, failed at first to check the Administration. But the public, represented by opinion polls, has stepped in, and the institutions are following. Not since the Soviet Union fell fourteen years ago have we witnessed a greater reversal of fortune.
I would say we should reserve judgment, and await further reversals. The cards of military power, media might, surveillance, and subterfuge are all in the hands of the GOP, who will no dount play them as they see fit. A surprise military strike on an "Axis of Evil" country, a terrorist attack in a major U.S. city, or some similar unpleasant surprise would quickly revert the national mood to one of cowed sullenness.

Instead of focusing their entire energies on on the unlikely possibility of reform of the current system, progressive and liberal intellectuals might begin to build the new institutions and community infrastructures that will be necessary as the current structure disintegrates. The federal response to the Katrina disaster, creating a template for the institution of martial law and the kneejerk revoking of basic citizen rights, should serve as a fair warning for what lies ahead.

Part of what progressive commentators such as Schell are entirely lacking, in my opinion, is any understanding of the shamanic dimensions of consciousness - of psychic, mystical, occult, and prophetic aspects of reality - which are required to gain any true understanding of what is taking place. Of course, that is a topic for a much longer discussion - one I make in my books and articles and will continue in this Blog.

To look at a group that is directly engaged in reinventing community activism in New Orleans, check out CommonGround.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

drawing of me in popocculture


Tim Boucher recently interviewed me for popocculture, accompanied by this quirky sketch by Jared Drew Moody:


Daniel Pinchbeck Interview

The Mayan Apocalypse

I wrote this piece for nprophet, a blog.

The Mayan Apocalypse
Daniel Pinchbeck

Over the past decade, I have engaged in an intellectual and spiritual odyssey that began when I was in my late twenties, in the depths of an existential crisis. At that time I was a journalist whose work had appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, among others, and the editor of a New York-based literary magazine, Open City. I was brought up as an atheist in a countercultural milieu – my mother was a novelist, book editor, and former member of the Beat Generation; my father was an abstract painter living in SoHo. I had internalized the modern scientific view of a world lacking a sacred or transcendent dimension – the “universe in ruins” described by Bertrand Russell. Suffering from nihilism, I found that I desperately needed to interrogate my world view, and to see if there were any other options.

The only events in my life that suggested the possibility of other forms of consciousness or other realms of being were my psychedelic journeys on mushrooms and LSD, back in college. I decided to return to psychedelics and systematically study this culturally suppressed and forbidden area. I explored the substances I had known, and learned about many I had never heard of before. I tried ayahuasca, the sacred “medicine” of the Amazon basin, brewed from two jungle plants, in a ceremony in downtown Manhattan. I also took an assignment from a music magazine to go through a tribal initiation in Gabon, on the West African equator, using a psychedelic rootbark, iboga, that sent me on a long trip back through my childhood, also featuring prophetic hints and telepathic views. I wrote about these experiences, and many others, in my first book, Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism, published by Random House, in 2002.

The upshot of my study – which included doing shamanic work with the Mazatec Indians in Mexico and the Secoya tribe in the Ecuadorean Amazon, visiting the Burning Man festival in Nevada, and exploring synthetic compounds invented in the last decades – was that I became convinced, through my experiences, that the shamanic, occult, or mystical worldview was more accurate than the materialist worldview I had inherited. I transferred my allegiances from Freud to Jung, whose acceptance of synchronicity, of archetypes belonging to a collective unconscious, and the “reality of the psyche,” seemed to support the shamanic worldview through the prism of modern depth psychology. Over the course of my research, I encountered extraordinary numbers of synchronicities and various forms of psychic phenomena in which I had no “belief” beforehand. My world view was forced to expand to allow for this new data.

Among the substances I tried was the superpotent fast-acting psychedelic, dimethyltryptamine, known as DMT. DMT was the subject of a 1990s study by Doctor Rick Strassman at the University of New Mexico, the results compiled in his book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Strassman noted that DMT was an endogamous chemical in human beings, naturally occurring in our brains (perhaps produced by the pineal gland) and spinal column. Strassman was a Buddhist, and he had noted that Buddhist texts described the soul reincarnating seven weeks after death. The pineal gland appeared in fetal development exactly forty-nine days after conception. Strassman wondered if this was a more than accidental conjunction – if DMT, or some other compound produced by the pineal gland could be the “spirit molecule,” a kind of conductive medium drawing the soul down into the body and releasing it at death. When I smoked DMT, I found that I completely lost contact with this reality, and entered another dimension or realm that seemed fully convincing, yet almost overwhelming in its otherness. The best I could describe this other realm was “Tibetan mandalas meets Disney World in the Twenty-Fifth Century” – it seemed simultaneously geometric, hyper-organic, hyperreal. I had the sensation of much higher levels of consciousness watching over this realm, and inspecting me as I passed through it – the entire trip lasted less than ten minutes. Although DMT is a naturally occurring compound in the human body and in many plants, it was made illegal by the US Government in the late 1960s.

I was left wondering why Western culture found it necessary to drastically repress not only psychedelic chemicals, but the entire worldview of shamanism with its focus on intuitive and magical aspects of reality, represented by the burning of witches in the Inquisition, and the destruction of native traditions during Colonialism. It seemed to me that this suppression masked some deep ontological threat to the modern mind. Since I had validated the precepts of shamanism for myself, I also began to wonder about the prophecies that many indigenous cultures hold about the time we are in right now – from the Hopi Indians of New Mexico, who believe we are on the verge of transitioning from one “world” to another, to the Classical Mayan civilization of the Yucatan, obsessed with time and astronomy, who seemed to predict that the imminently approaching year of 2012 represented a transformational threshold for human consciousness. I began to realize that prophecy was more than specious prediction – as Armin Geertz, a Hopi anthropologist, noted, “Prophecy is a thread in the total fabric of meaning, in the total worldview. In this way it can be seen as a way of life and of being.”

My investigation of prophecy became the core of my new book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, to be released in April by Viking-Penguin. Four years in the making, it synthesizes a vast range of philosophical ideas and approaches, outsider scholarship about the Mayan Calendar, and my own personal investigation of a range of phenomena that fall utterly outside the current mainstream paradigm, including the bizarre narratives of alien abductions, the UK-based evolution of the crop circles over the last thirty years, and the Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion that mixes Christian and indigenous elements and uses ayahuasca as its sacrament. For the book, I absorbed ideas from Carl Jung, Rudolf Steiner, the psychedelic pundit Terence McKenna, and the German philosopher Jean Gebser, author of The Ever-Present Origin, a study of the evolution of consciousness that influenced Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson, among others. I also evaluated the recent wave of mystical interpretations of the discoveries of quantum physics, including Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics and books by the Indian physicist Amit Goswami, The Self-Aware Universe and Physics of the Soul.

My perspective also takes the Judeo-Christian tradition into account, especially focusing on the Gnostic Christianity revealed by the “Gospel of Thomas,” discovered in the Naj Hammadi desert in 1945, but potentially dating from the same era as the canonical gospels. Over the last decades, there has been a great wave of interest, in progressive cultural circles, in spirituality and mysticism, but almost entirely of the Eastern and non-Western variety, from Hinduism and yoga to Buddhism, and now shamanism. For people in my secular world, the hardest tradition to examine or assimilate has been our own – partially, this is because of the destructive effects and blood-soaked character of this tradition, which proclaimed Christian values while committing genocide against indigenous populations across the world, and whose missionaries still seek to impose Christianity on tribal and non-Western cultures, even today.

Steiner and Jung gave me access to my own tradition. I consider Jung’s essay, "Answer to Job," one of the most important texts of the Twentieth Century, providing a psychoanalytic portrait of the Western "god-image," Jahweh, as he developed, in a dialectical relationship with his chosen people, the Jews, through the Old and the New Testaments. Jung notes that the Western god-image has been undergoing his own evolution – in the earlier works of the Old Testament, Jahweh often seems to have the personality of a primitive war-lord or despotic king, inciting increased consciousness by inflicting suffering on the Jews. Job is the first human being to recognize that the god-image is not simply beyond judgment and understanding, but contains antinomies, schisms within his own nature, that make him the "dark god" of the unconscious as well as a benevolent life-giving deity. According to Jung, Job’s realization forces a concomitant realization on the part of the god-image; the creator fears the skeptical gaze of his creature, and he is forced to incarnate as Christ, a manifestation of the "good god," as a dialectical compensation for his previous amorality. Jung realized that the incarnation of Christ was preparation – that the god-image intended to incarnate in the collective body of humanity, and that this event was approaching quickly. Jung saw the flying saucer phenomenon of the 1950s as a sign of an imminent transformation in the nature of the psyche.

Jung’s follower Edward Edinger thought we had entered the archetypal frame of the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse, which he interpreted as, essentially, a momentous psychic event – the “coming of the Self” into conscious realization. I agree with this interpretation, which also fits the understanding of the Mayan Calendar developed by the visionary thinker Jose Arguelles (The Mayan Factor) and the Swedish biologist Carl Johan Calleman (The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness). According to Edinger, the “Book of Revelation” is a text of oppositions, suggesting the extraordinarily difficult task facing the Western psyche, of reconciling, and bringing to consciousness, the negative and positive poles of the psyche. He notes that the “Whore of Babylon” in the Book of Revelation drinks the “disgusting filth of her fornication” out of a “golden cup,” which is a symbol of the precious vessel of the higher self. We are being forced to recognize, and assimilate, all of the suppressed contents of the psyche, in order to evolve to a higher state of consciousness – Apocalypse literally means “uncovering” or “revealing.”

The process of Apocalypse involves a realization that Western civilization is founded on a fundamentally flawed conception of time. Through our solar calendars, desynchronized from natural cycles, and our technological projections, we have reified a conception of time as an unvarying linear extension akin to space, in which ultimate fulfillment or completion lies in a far-distant and undefined future condition. We are constantly projecting our hopes, dreams, and desires onto the future – acting as though the present moment is somehow insufficient, founded upon a lack or failure of being. Part of Christ’s mission on the earth was to directly challenge this misconception through his parables and elegant paradoxes. He said, for instance, “The hour is coming, and now is.” Christ spoke and acted from the perspective of what Gebser calls “origin,” the transcendent domain, outside of space and time, given rigorous formulation by quantum physics.

Indigenous groups such as the Hopi or the Australian Aboriginals live in a form of time that is vastly different from our modern conception of it. The Hopi have a “continuum consciousness” in which “all time is present now,” and events follow a pre-set pattern. `For the Aboriginals, there was never a “fall of man” into a degraded state. Every day is the “first day,” the origin point, and the purpose of their rituals and ceremonies is to maintain the perfection of creation.

I consider this revelation of the existence of other orders of time to be one of the great values of the psychedelic experience, as Aldous Huxley described it in his classic work on mescaline, The Doors of Perception: Psychedelics have the potential to act as tremendous deconditioning agents, revealing the numinous and eternal quality of the present moment, scrubbing away the accumulation of mental habits and conditioned responses that keep us wired into a delusory social reality based on perpetual postponement. This may be the main reason they are perceived as a threat – they threaten the value system of mainstream society, not peripherally, but directly and ontologically. They are, as Ralph Metzner noted, “Gnostic catalysts.”

While Christianity is certainly opposed to direct experience of non-ordinary states produced by psychedelic compounds found in plants, it is far less certain that Christ would have shared this perspective. “Open the doors for yourself, so you will know what is,” he proclaims in the “Gospel of Thomas.” I believe that Christ, as a revolutionary Gnostic figure, can be reclaimed for a progressive and contemporary spirituality that does not believe Christ somehow “saved our souls” through the crucifixion. Instead, by acting from the transcendent domain, he provided a model for the selfless action required in an Apocalyptic age. Christ only “saves our souls” if we follow his lead, which requires a tireless engagement with contemporary social and spiritual reality. His “doctrine” is one of immanence instead of transcendence.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Review of GenerationRx in LA Weekly

I reviewed Greg Critser's new book, Generation Rx, for LA Weekly this week. The piece is here. Actually, it is more of an overview than a review. I found the business story, which is the main focus of the book, to be tedious and repetitive. However, the issues raised by the book - about our propensity for medicalization of physical and psychological conditions, the corruption of regulatory agencies, and so on - are crucial ones.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Iran Nuke Strike Imminent?

The question of whether or not the US Government plans an imminent nuclear strike against Iran has gotten little publicity in the mainstream press. This article from Antiwar.com makes a good case for us to take this idea very seriously.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Introduction

Welcome to my new blog. I am the author of Breaking Open the Head. I have recently completed a book on prophecy, which will come out in the Spring of 2006 from Viking-Penguin. The book is titled 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. We can discuss the subject of prophecy here in great depth. I am also the editorial director of a new media and membership organization, The Evolver Project. This project is related to my understanding of the meaning of the Mayan Calendar as a "time-table for the evolution of consciousness," in the words of Carl Johan Calleman. For those who haven't checked it out, I recommend taking a look at the Millenium Ecosystems Assessment, compiled by the UN. I believe we are in an accelerated evolutionary process leading to a transformation of consciousness - a shift in the nature of the psyche -- within the next five years.