who am i? am I real? – day 12

they were the questions that I took away from my three day ceremonial ayahuasca and kambo and such retreat that started this transformative journey. i didn’t ask it but an owner of the retreat had and I never answered her or myself. maybe it’s time.

you may remember there was an incident during this retreat. it was the last night and a few of us sat outdoors close to an open fire for warmth and reflection. we had done the hard work and now the really hard work had begun. the inner work. i felt calm for the first time in a long while. i was happy to be/me.

then the large framed woman near me began to vocalize into the darkness that swallowed it without prejudice. she was the only black person at the retreat and her anger demanded everyone paid attention. she was fed up spending time in a privilege environment of the white rich and she used her rich, deep voice to tell everyone. when a few people around me were struggling to contain their baser nature i challenged a neighbour to see the opportunity for his inner growth to ebb his anger.

the people that i met this weekend taught me not to judge appearances when judging hearts. i had become so connected with others, nature and myself and I was somewhat surprised others didn’t. the night grew colder and the beautiful big woman shriller. people had left the circle, some quietly, some not. i scored a blanket and tried to inhale the night light. i couldn’t. my mind demanded action. my heart demanded compassion. i walked over and back turned, blocked her view of the fire with my indifference. as she jumped into action and the staff responded in kind. hoisted high she never said goodbye.

i returned to my blanket but found no comfort there. next day and clear of the medicine i found myself in a space shared by her and i and i couldn’t help myself. i told her that i understood her pain, although it was not my pain. that she had every right to be that person if in fact that is her true self . i didn’t feel angry or resentful but it have regrets that the weekend had to end for many on this note. for me, however, the weekend gave me an injection of aliveness which i now nourish. it gives me strength to face my uncertain future with certainty.

since then I’ve had many adventures that have allowed me to experience my multi-dimensional self and to be comfortable with my death and dying. i have a 2-3 more events I need to share but this was the first thing that I wanted to share.

I’ll soon write about my extra special Kambo weekend, my community of fellow travellers, a QHHT session and most recently the cancellation of my psilocybin retreat.

Nonetheless, I still don’t know who I am because it seems i’m imploding while renovating who i am. Maybe after my transformative journey I’ll know who I am and if i’m real but I hope I don’t because I love a good narrative.

Soul Portrait – Day 11

Since arranging this moment to have my soul painted I have had plenty of doubts that it was even possible. When I arrived on the day my empathic guide and intrepid artist, Pamela, made me feel welcome. In short order I was asked to stretch out, enjoy the music and connect to the Divine within me. I was comfortable with the first two requests but a little baffled by the last. 

Connecting with the Divine wasn’t something that I had much experience doing in my largely temporal, unidimensional existence. I wasn’t exactly sure how to summon the Divine forth such that another person could record it for posterity. Nonetheless, I believe that we all have the Divine within us so I was willing to give it my best effort. 

After all, this is what I signed up for when I started my transformative journey six months ago. During this time I have learnt to trust in the process, to let go of expectations and to suppress my ego in order to take the formidable journey to my heart. Yet despite such progress my ‘monkey mind’ was certainly not ready to acquiesce without a struggle.

I felt at peace. I felt whole as we began connecting on another dimension. 

Then I was given a form-fitting sleep mask that helped to eliminate ordinary distractions, like light and shadows. Once comfortable I relaxed enough to let go. I began to meditate. I felt a tingling sensation like I often do when I meditate except the tingling flowed through my entire body like an electric current.

Comforted by Pamela’s soothing, intuitive brush strokes I went deeper into my meditative state. Although I didn’t know what was being created I felt vindicated by the vigorous activity and the knowledge that something was being created. I knew that the expressionless canvas was undergoing a metamorphosis and that somehow that suggested to me that I don’t know what I don’t know. 

How is it possible that my ‘soul’ was painted, without a single word exchanged, onto the canvas? It was literally mind blowing to imagine such other dimensional communication.I have long felt that the defining nature of indoctrination and conceptual thinking didn’t prepare me for a spiritual journey. In fact, it enslaved me by trapping me into my own ego and the knee-jerk reaction to thinking and acting through preordained filters. 

This portrait of my soul was another act of defiance to reclaim my connection to the Divine. 

Self-esteem is linked to social conformity and survival. Our species is largely comprised of unthinking followers, like any well-intended hive insect. Our reach is often limited to what is in front of us, not what is beyond our senses and beliefs. Plant medicine has shown me that I am and we all are a part of the Divine and not defined by easily regurgitated narrow self-interests and labels.  

I felt the energy in the palms of my outstretched hands and, occasionally, throughout my entire body. I felt a raised consciousness but not in the sense I saw visions but rather that I felt my wholeness as a divine person. I was passive in the sense that I didn’t raise a finger or paint a brush stroke but I was also actively connecting with my spiritual self.

I believe that being passive allows me to connect with the Divine in others. Through non-violence, non-judgement, and non-reactivity. It allows me to return to the innocence of my childhood and the curious, playful, fully alive self. It allows me to passively push aside the reflex thinking of my indoctrination and to reclaim the innocence that is my birthright.

A divine consciousness is part of each person’s birthright. 

If my experiences with Ayahuasca, Breathwork and Kambo are awakenings then the escape from my ego imprisonment lies with my daily practice of meditation. For this regiment has allowed me to become more aware of my ‘monkey mind’ and to confront its entrapments. 

If spirituality is my path then reaching a higher consciousness is my goal. It is my birthright and something I hope to reclaim. My end of life trajectory is set. I am not waiting for the inevitable decay of my physical life form to have such transcendent experiences as a Soul Portrait or any of the other experiences that I have had or, hopefully, will continue to have. 

In the end, the painting would turn out to be an aurora borealis of energy and a splattering of forms and figures. Some see Native American, Egyptian, as well as animal and plant life. Others see a joyful abundance of energy. I see an interconnected harmony beyond myself, in accordance with nature rather than against it. It is whatever the viewer sees in it that reveal their own state of spiritual bliss. 

All I truly know is that as the portrait was emerging time didn’t matter nor didn’t anything except being present without expectations or preconceptions. In this state I felt something that has become more accessible since I’ve started on my spiritual path of transcendence. I felt that I was once again experiencing my child-like self, my true self. 

Meeting ‘God’ was up-close and personal but not enlightening – Day 10

Earlier this week I had an accidental overdose of medically prescribed THC/CBD oil. I didn’t know that an overdose was even possible but the quantity that I consumed probably increased the likelihood. In a vile containing 30ml (net volume) comprised of 16.34 mg/ml of CBD and 9.99 mg/ml of THC I estimate that I took almost 20 ml in one gulp when I mistook the full bottle as empty and tried to drain the last few drops.

I knew what to something of what to expect after experiencing the DMT of Ayahuasca but was totally unprepared for a THC overdose and the collateral damage it might inflict.

It started as a typical night for my wife and I.  We were grateful to have recently survived another storm without any damage but we were still tired from a restless sleep. This particular mid-December evening the fireplace glow, our Christmas decorations and Holiday lights brightened the long winter night. Our pets were stretched out on their beds or their favourite places. Christmas gifts were promisingly placed under a triangular metal ‘tree’, with red ribbon edging and 21 hand-painted Holiday bulbs, near the fireplace. The serene and peaceful ambience was an antidote to our long, cold and dark nights of winter. 

Such weather is great for cozy evenings. By 7pm it had been dark for 2 hours and dinner dishes were already cleared and cleared. We sat in our side-by-side easy chairs enjoying a TV episode of the streaming series ‘Sneaky Pete’. My wife soon nudged her feet over my armrest in the pursuit of her nightly feet massage. On this night, however, I was not in the mood. I was preoccupied. Since swallowing the THC I had been trying to gauge the impact my overdose would have on our tranquil evening and my wife’s fragile support for my hallucinogenic transcendent journey. 

I didn’t need to wait long and as the THC chemicals quickly make their way through my bloodstream, into my brain and then the rest of my body, it became increasing clear that the impact would be equivalent to a terrorist bomb exploding when least expected and where it could do the most damage. It was a well-known jihadist fear tactic that amplified the impact of their acts. I now feared that my overdose would go beyond myself. I knew what to expect after experiencing the DMT from Ayahuasca but was totally unprepared for a THC overdose and the collateral damage it might inflict.

To her, It must have felt like I was inhabited by ‘God’ in the same way someone, who was a candidate for an exorcism, was ‘inhabited’ by the ‘Devil’.

I tried to focus on ‘Sneaky Pete’ to distract myself and to focus my overdose experience. I imagined that this was the equivalent to someone heroically throwing themselves on a hand grenade or bomb for the greater good. It wasn’t long, however, before I began to verbally dissect each scene. It was not unusual for me to analyze TV shows but seldom would I do so verbally or spontaneously. I knew that I was in trouble when I declared ‘Sneaky Pete’ to be the best program by the Breaking Bad creative team since that series had its last hurrah. It was her askance look that revealed the truth. 

I had initially resisted the urge to disrupt our evening as I’ve had always kept my ‘transcendent journey’ struggles largely to myself. My wife of 18 years had made it clear that she didn’t want me to travel, let alone take such unnecessary risks. I also wanted our cocoon lifestyle, surrounded by nature and nurture, but I was also driven by a need to prepare for the inevitable loneliness and despair of dying. I scrambled to repackage my situation in order to salvage the moment when, shortly after singing the praises of Bryan Cranston, I felt like I was abducted by an undeniable, yet seemingly alien, force that held me captive. Think Spielberg’s film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’.In other words, I realized that this was not going to be another routine night. 

At one point I imagined my body rhythmically moving to a pulsating drum beat. It felt like I was a Native warrior on the Plains that my people once called home. I was alone but somehow also connected to a spirit. I danced an ancient tribal dance with abandon as I felt a deep ancestral connection to the land and the Creator. I was not thinking so much as staying in the moment of this blissful celebration of movement. The reality to my wife, however, was that I was uncoordinated, almost convulsive. 

My wife told me afterwards that she saw that I was drained of colour, unable to walk or talk coherently and near death. To her, It must have felt like I was inhabited by ‘God’ in the same way someone, who was a candidate for an exorcism, was ‘inhabited’ by the ‘Devil’. To me, I felt that I was a free spirit who emerged in a Native spirit dance and, despite my wife’s fears, I would have happily died in that joyful moment. 

Perhaps ‘God’s’ edginess shows a bit more at this time of year? I mean, I know that I would be irritated. 

Later I took on the ‘persona’ of ‘God’, or, at least, my idea of what ‘God’ would say and do. At times I was in communication without words and at times I verbalized ‘God’s’ thoughts. My internal ‘conversations’ were all one-side. It felt like ‘God’ was speaking either through me or to me. I had no control over what I did and was continually surprised by what I said or thought.

When my wife asked ‘God’ if he/she was real I sensed that ‘God’ became irritated. When ‘God’ responded, he/she lowered his/her voice to almost a whisper and started to speak through me. ‘God’ explained, through my voice and persona, that my wife was going to die. I saw my wife’s non-reaction and thought we are all going to die, although I sensed that this was more of a news headline then an obvious fact. My wife, however, might just need time to process what is happening in our living room on this once cozy evening. 

At one point I got stuck in a repeating loop as I was being lowered onto what I thought was a comfortable couch. My smugness was eliminated when a mirror revealed that I was being lowered into a coffin. It wasn’t clear to me if this was imminent or the nature of a human life cycle but, in the moment, it felt like I was on a de-assembly line in that it was ‘one size fits all’ impersonal. It was clear, however, that getting affairs in order and stop wasting precious time was important for both my wife and I and probably for everyone. It was a harsh reality we would all face but this seemed to me to be more immediate somehow. 

He/she next told my wife that her existence and the existence of humanity was a mere distraction, like a toy for a child. ‘God’ added that my wife lives in a tiny world but that the cosmos had an infinite number of multi-dimensional universes, which, as I observed in ‘real’ time, were laid out in a linear manner such that he/she, as well as I, could see at a glance. I felt her recoil as if to take a sober measure of everything. I had just experienced ‘God’ as all-knowing, all-powerful ‘Father figure’ who had a bit of an edge that felt very human to me. 

Yet part of me also was reminded of my struggle to understand why, if Jesus was angry with merchants in a temple why he/she is not also angry with the celebration that commemorates his birth has been ‘converted’ into a pagan indulgence of consumerism. Perhaps ‘God’s’ edginess shows a bit more at this time of year? I mean, I know that I would be irritated. 

In other words, my take on ‘God’ while under the influence is a projection of my own fears and insecurities that will likely underline my late stage of life.

It is difficult for me to give my take on ‘God’ by simply using quotation marks or stating he/she felt human without also providing my religious background and thoughts on religion and spirituality. So, hopefully, you will read the rest of this entry as I attempt to switch gears.

I believe that Spirituality is a birthright of each person, no matter which ‘God’ you worship and regardless of whether you are a believer or not. I also believe that many Religions are corrupted by man in their quest for worldly dominance, power and wealth and are generally not concerned with you and your betterment through self-actualization or spiritual cosmic awakening. In fact, they are not concerned with the millions of homeless and starving or those that they torture, abuse and subjugate. 

Spirituality, for me, is based upon my profound gratitude for the interrelatedness of all life and a belief that there is a cosmic Father and Mother for all of us. These beliefs were heightened during my Ayahuasca experience but not in my overdose experience. In both cases, however, my experiences were partly defined by my fear of dying and my journey to mitigate the inevitable loneliness and despair of dying. In other words, my take on ‘God’ while under the influence is a projection of my own fears and insecurities that will likely underline my late stage of life. 

Islam is gaining more territory and Muslim adherents as well as more power and prominence through the unifying power of a Jihad. Secularism is also on the rise as more people choose secularism or to sit on the sidelines of religious wars.

I am not religious but I was ‘raised’ as a Catholic. My parents always pushed me out the door for Sunday mass but never attended themselves. I often spent the hour walking around or checking out used car lots. My childhood was marred by the years that I spent in a grade school run by Catholic Nuns and a year in High School run by the Christian Brothers, the same Brothers who molested the young orphan boys in their care at the Mount Cashel Orphanage that they also ran. My adult life has been secular. This stage of my adult life, however, has been defined by my spiritual journey that began on the Ayahuasca part of my transcendent journey.

I have also found it revealing that so many different religions believe that they are the one true religion and are driven to convert the entire world into their Faith even if it means employing the decidedly non-religious means of mutilation, torture, killing, the suppression of women and the rape of young boys under the sole protection of supposedly non-sexual men. What is wrong with this picture?

It is a sacrilege against all that is Holy yet we continue to follow because we want to believe that Religion gives our lives meaning or that there is a better life after death or that our sins will be forgiven. The promise of an afterlife is one of the keys for religions that prey on our weaknesses. We are followers that want to believe but those that offer salvation ignore the millions starving, without homes or rights, and being treated inhumanly. 

The World is under attack on many fronts today. In the West we don’t see the impact as much but we know that our planet is dying from pollution and poisons as well as increasing demands on our ecosystem from an unsustainable population and the devastations to crops and irritable land and sustainable life caused draughts, fires and floods.

The roots of the Roman Catholic Church were a pagan cult but they rose to become arguably the wealthiest tax-free corporation in history. Now Christianity is on the decline. Judaism is under attack. Islam is on the rise. Islam is gaining more territory and Muslim adherents as well as more power and prominence through the unifying power of a Jihad. Secularism is also on the rise as more people choose secularism or to sit on the sidelines of religious wars.

Trump’s mercurial rise to the most powerful position in the world, for instance, happened because he is who he is and we are who we are. 

I have long been drawn to the era after the death of Jesus that marks the rise of the Roman Catholic Church and the decline of the Roman Empire. It must have been a difficult time to distinguish yourself from the next soothsayer or healer or your beliefs when there were so many pagan Religions during the rise of the Roman Empire, which allowed different pagan cults to flourish in order to control the masses within their expansive territory.

The rise of the Roman Catholic Church during this time has a lot to do with a son trying to capture his fallen Father’s role as Western Roman Emperor only to discover your military force, when faced with a powerful foe and the the likelihood of their death, fails to enthusiastically engage the enemy. 

The key to his victory and reign as Emperor was tied to Christianity after his hesitant soldiers were enticed to engage the enemy when their shields were painting with a Christian symbol and the hoped-for enthusiasm not only materialized but proved victorious. Constantine’s men fought with the renewed vigour of a higher purpose.

He became the Western Roman Emperor and within a year of his reign legalized Christianity. One year after his armies defeated the Eastern Roman Emperor he became the sole Emperor. Constantine, once again, ‘blessed’ the Roman Catholic Church when he proclaimed that Jesus to be a divine entity. 

The Roman Empire not only gave the Roman Catholic Church its reigns of power but also showed the world a blueprint to power. In today’s era, imagine an alliance between Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin or any hugely popular voice of the people aligning with the power of a popular religion or other entity.

We are followers by nature and not well suited to change our circumstances, such as climate change and treating immigrants inhumanely, as we do not see beyond our tribe and our own immediate needs. Trump’s mercurial rise to the most powerful position in the world, for instance, happened because he is who he is and we are who we are. 

We all face homelessness – Day 9

Everyday the ‘paper cuts’ of invisibility diminish each and everyone of us.

The other day I went into a Hospital to get an x-ray and observed that most people seeking non-emergency help were seniors. I wasn’t surprised but I did become self-conscious about by own trajectory and the fact that I am slowly entering this demographic. It struck me that everyone I saw had life experience and a lifetime of untapped wisdom that would soon be extinguished. Their lives, our lives are viewed by society much like the way one-way projectiles are  seen by the military. 

I’ve seen this before but I’ve always been able to distance myself from this inevitability by taking comfort in my mobility and my vigor. This day I did the same as I always do but I knew that I was lying to myself. I knew not only that this was my future but that the future had arrived. For the first time I felt older than I felt last year. 

Feeling older, vulnerable and invisible is sometimes a part of our lives but for every disenfranchised person it is a fact of life.

Later I drove through the lazy streets of my mid-sized town. I came across a run-down section of town that I seldom visit. It was where a new convention centre was spurring a revitalization. Now hotels and businesses were rising from ashes of abandoned buildings. Cheap land and the promise of a ‘golden’ business opportunities spurred greed and growth.

A familiar refrain that had not been sung in this part of town for what seemed like generations. Juxtaposed in this urban gold rush were the homeless.

The invisible homeless who we all see everyday. The displaced and disenfranchised homeless. Invisible because we are hardened to their plight and their ever increasing numbers. I wondered how this revitalization would affect their shelters and food depots. 

The question was personal to me. My own struggle with mortality was intertwined somehow. My youth was commercialized as my earning power increased. Now as my earning power has decreased and my age has increased I am becoming a member of the invisible class. My fellow classmates were easy to find throughout our society.

Seniors and the homeless share invisibility with all Americans who are not white, male, powerful or privileged. But even those who are white, male, powerful and privileged are also diminished by their self-imposed isolation and false security.

As I observed the men and women who made this neighbourhood their home turf, I was reminded how I was one with these fellow travellers. Despite first appearances and the sanctuary of my life I was not inured to their pain and suffering. I knew that I, too, have the ‘sword of Damocles’  hanging over my life about to cut me down to size. I knew that it is easy to become invisible through retirement and aging. 

My affinity with the homeless has since grown. I like the honesty of their lives. There is no frills, no pretence. Their basic physical needs for food, water, air, safety, shelter, warmth, health, and sex was largely satisfied by well intended organizations such as the Red Cross. But I heard despair in their voices and saw anguish in their faces and wondered if there was some way to inject meaning and purpose into their lives. I don’t mean work or social programs but rather something that removes their invisibility and that makes them proud.

Why do we continue to act like ostriches with our buried heads ignoring the inevitable decisions and actions of our brief time on earth?

On a return visit to the area I visited a homeless shelter and was left my particulars for the person in charge. I don’t know exactly what I’ll say but I do know what I want to convey. I want him or her to briefly imagine a coalition of homeless people standing up against climate change. Maybe even standing along side the children who have already found their voices. Maybe it will cause the more complacent among us to say something like if the homeless can do this than what is stopping us/me from also taking a stand. 

I know that this daydreaming is ‘pie in the sky’ stuff. I also know that we are in a rut. I realize that inaction is our default position. But we do know better. We know that plants and animals are increasingly becoming extinct and that our reliance on a healthy, biodiverse environment is increasingly becoming more and more precarious. This is no longer an argument that pits our lifestyle against science and facts. It is a reality that everyone of us will face in our lifetime. 

The Climate Change deniers are no different than those promoting the misinformation that smoking and alcohol are good for you and your image. 

The longer we deny this reality, the greater the urgency to stand united against climate change and demand change. Until now, we all been mostly silenced by the ‘we need fossil fuels for jobs and the economy’ mantras of big business. Yet we all know that big business or the industrial/military complex has always served their own interests and that of the insulated elite.

We are so often led by self interests into becoming disposable like the defenceless soldiers of Gallipoli or the homeless on your streets. Why would we ignore the signs or the reality when to do so only increases the uninhabitability of our community, our country and our ecosystem. Greed and growth at any cost would be my guess.


Everyone is either a climate warrior or asleep at the wheel – Day 8

Greta Thunberg, then 15, holds a placard reading ’School strike for the climate’ during a protest against climate change outside the Swedish parliament last November. The link gives some background on her efforts including her recent visit to the US Congress. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/20/us/greta-thunberg-profile-weir/index.html

Greta Thunberg is an unlikely climate warrier. Barely a teenager, she is shy and unassuming. Nonetheless, she now has become a symbol to the rest of us of what one person can do to make a difference. Yet that difference is also unlikely unless we decide to also become climate warriors. Why has it come to this desperate a situation that our children are acting more like an adult than us adults?

We live in a time not entirely dissimilar to when tribalism first harnesed the separation between us and them. When life gender roles and expectations were embedded in our children. Both a a tribe and a modern tribe need to reply upon alliances and predictable crop yields to survive and thrive. Our modern technology has evolved but human have not. We are the same basic animal that is still motivated by primal fears and irrational thoughts. 

Our species, in the past, has formed a world wide alliance when threatened by unabated devastation the Smallpox, one of the world’s most feared diseases until it was eradicated by a collaborative global vaccination programme. Yet the idea of such a collaboration today is challenged by climate deniers and the religious who dismiss science as much as others dismiss the mythology surrounding religion. 

Today, in our deeply divided world, the need to unify as a species is once again dire. Our leaders do not lead, our masses do unify to demand change and our gods stand idle as the world gasps. It is easy to do nothing yet we know that we are able, as a species, to take collective actions in order to overcome common threats to our species. So why don’t we take action? 

Some would say that it is all a hoax or that science is misguided but others might say we have fallen asleep at the wheel and the time for action has been squandered.

What is clear is that we are plagued by inaction at a critical point in the survival of our species. At this crossroad in our species history being asleep ‘at the wheel’ will not only impact human and other organisms but also what was once our life-sustaining garden. Inaction will continue exasperate a desperate situation. The greed and indifference of our species has unleashed destabilized forces and like a mythical genie, cannot be put back into the proverbial bottle. 

Longer lasting and more intense storms and floods will ruin crops and shift populations but also devastate coastal, low-lying regions. Drought will also ruin crops and shift populations and create ideal conditions for wild fires. The spread of invasive species and disease will challenge existing health systems and further impact biodiversity.  

Even our food will be impacted. Ocean acidification and pollution is impacting sea life and our dependence on the ocean as a food source. Our once rich animal and plant diversity has already been severely impacted by the demands of an unsustainable population. As pollution and land shortages will continue to impact the type of nature of our food as we change our food sources and modify our food to accommodate more people and less fertile land. 

We can all be warriors if and when we are awakened by the futility and meaninglessness of life.

We will not be the first to wonder, nor likely the last, if this life is all that there is. Our obsessions and distractions have defined many of our lives. ‘Bread and Circuses’ is a well known phenomena used to control the masses. There are many more that indoctrinate and sedate us from childhood to adulthood. 

The surprising part is not that we are followers but that we are willing to follow the pied piper of the hour off the cliff simply because he/she sings a predictably compelling but, ultimately self-serving tune. We never awaken from its spell nor do we seek other paths in life. We are, after all is said and plunged, strictly followers.

 We have the ability to use technology and science to create a brave new world. But technology is not our saviour. It is not even our friend. Every new invention can and likely will be weaponized against others or us. A few control the masses and likely will always control the masses as long as we willingly stay divided and marginalized. 

Is this all there is to life?

We will not be the first to wonder, nor the last, if this life is all that there is. We have the ability to use technology and science to create a brave new world but many fear such a world will suffer from the same human flaws that have unleashed the destructive forces of today. Does planetary travel really make sense when we cannot live in balance on Earth?

As social animals there is meaning for some in creating offsprings. Others find meaning through a more solitary life. Whatever works often works best if there are social rewards since we all have social drives and values. Yet as individuals we can also feel the meaning of life reduced to breeding and work in which even a full social life lacks individual fulfillment and actualization. This is likely why the question of whether this is all there is will serve as a wake up call for many.

If you step outside of our social norms or are socially marginalized through social disconnects such as divorce and retirement or if you travel authentically or experiencing, truly experiencing a higher spiritual power or some life-altering event.

For me it was becoming a participant in a mind-altering psychedelic experience. I saw my life in a different context, one that is defined by being faithful to my true-self. The self that was buried by my self-imposed ego. 

I now wonder if the world can be united if we all realizing our true-selves or, at least, placing our ego gratification in lower esteem

My ego was so dominate that only my recent psychedelic experience has fully released my dormant wakefulness. It has led me to now believe that the meaning of our lives is to become true to our true-selves, not just a sleep-walking participants. 

My ego gratification is less of a compulsion and I am actively de-cluttering my world of stuff. It will not only reduce my carbon footprint but also allow me more time to travel inward.

 The pull of Western industrial society consumerism is often undeniable but reframing my values has made be a much better consumer. In fact, I am now leaning strongly towards the environmental virtues of Veganism as playing a more active role as a guardian of the land and life in my purview. 

Unike Greta, I’m too old, too cynical to be the soap-box kind.

I’m part of the problem. Jaded by a life of failed efforts to change the course of today’s madness, I’ve decided to sit on the sidelines. I know that I will not experience the worst and have chosen my battles wisely. Yet I can’t stay silent knowing my children and grand children will inherit this mess. If others can then that is on them.

I know that my efforts won’t make a global difference. I know that a blog with 11 followers won’t change the course of our fate today. I know that an article by CNN will be dismissed by many readers who have already decided climate change is a hoax. It is a sad truth but my life experiences have extinguished the hope I once held in my heart for a better world.

I have seen the power of wealth and power. Special interests, Corporate interests, Military interests, Religious interests all hold sway within our democracies, much like they do in totalitarian states. I have even been disappointed by the reluctance of big oil to embrace a green strategy for the inevitable.

I truly hope that Greta inspires change.

I view the lacklustre response to Greta by the US congress as yet another example of passion speaking to arrogant self-interests of Politicians who are only too aware of the next election and their limited shelf-life. I wish her well. I wish all of us well. Mostly I wish other animal organisms well as they are the innocents, they are the true victims. For we, with our silence and compliance, are all to blame for today’s mess.

I truly hope our world takes action, not just today but forever. We desperately need a sea change in our values and our destructive, myopic ways. We need visionary leadership capable of profound actions today, even if it comes from our children.

It is after all, our children who will inherit our mess and an out-of-control world. It is our children whose future has been stolen by our actions and inactions. We should be deeply ashamed but there is no time left for acrimony or partisan politics. Now is the time to make profound changes in our way forward as a species. We need to express our love for each other as the brothers and sisters we are and to embrace our true-selves as the highest form of meaning in each of our lives.

Gods R Us – Day 7

As I start to embrace spirituality I want to briefly state my general position on God and Religion. The term God, for me, is tainted by tribal Religiosity. Man-made rules and writings that not only subordinates women but makes them property, like chattel. Androcentric societies described their male-dominated views in religious texts and sacred books that forged a humanity that is, not surprisingly, indistinguishable from a primitive society still present in male centric Religions today. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/uom-sw062314.php

My Take is that the only tangible benefit to lift people out of their poverty and misery is the suspiciously convenient possible of a glorious afterlife. The abuse of power and privilege reeks of Religion, not spirituality, and does not reflect the glory of the cosmic consciousness. The result in the Religious indoctrination of innocents is an ‘us versus them’ one-true-religion syndrome. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/homo-consumericus/201001/it-can-be-confusing-find-the-one-true-religion

Yet, looking at such wealthy corporations today, Religions fail miserable at delivering on the core message of ‘doing unto others’ and taking responsibilities for their actions. Hypocrisy comes to mind when I reflect upon my experiences with the Catholic Church but here is some extra reading to help you better understand how you and your religion are doing.https://lifehacker.com/seven-important-lessons-from-world-religions-everyone-s-1613615832

Her name was Ginette, the name of the person revealed to me in my first Ayahuasca experience, who ‘was God, or at least God-like’ 

An early morning drive to the airport and, after a short wait, I was headed home feeling pleased that I not only survived but thrived in this arduous experience. A week has not yet passed in my transcendent quest and I already find it one of the most amazing journeys of my life. I knew that people claimed it to be so but first hand experience, for me, a science-based, physical world-centered, skeptic allows me to know the truth that it holds. Experiencing another dimension in our cosmos, for me, was as real as death is inevitable. 

On the flight down I was fearful of catching a cold from fellow passengers so I wore a protective face mask and kept to myself. Now, not only didn’t I wear a face mask but I felt more open, more connected to my fellow passengers. I engaged with the kids that I ignored on the flight down and started a conversation with the elderly woman sitting beside me, who turned out to be the grandmother of the children.

As I relaxed, the children ran around me as studied the stranger in their midst who sat in the chair across the aisle and between their parents and their grandmother. I engaged their grandmother, who was their de facto guardian as their parents dozed, to understand the family dynamic. We traded pleasantries but when we exchanged names I was stunned. Her name was Ginette, the name of the person revealed to me in my first Ayahuasca experience, who ‘was God, or at least God-like’. 

My thoughts ran wild, like the unsupervised children in the aisle

I couldn’t dismiss this coincidence. Yet, I’ve always viewed such improbabilities as random unlikely circumstances. But, now I’m no longer so certain. She was the first person that I’ve met named Ginette, ever. Yet here we are sitting beside each other on a flight home to our respective middle-of-nowhere communities. It was only a few days ago that I was told to seek God by seeking Ginette. 

During my first Ayahuasca experience I experienced a comforting warmth and unconditional, eternal love. Yet all I saw was a magical sky. There was no entity, no image of a consciousness behind this force, known for spiritual awakening. For a moment, I wondered if it was real or just my over-active imagination stimulated by the traditionally religious Ayahuasca but I had no real idea how it might effect me. https://www.soul-herbs.com/ayahuasca-effects/

Then, when one of the Soul Quest people kneeled beside me and gently told me ‘if you want to know God then you need to seek Ginette’ I was intrigued but confused. But this didn’t occur just once. I was told by another person that while on Ayahuasca, he also was told to seek ‘Ginette’. I remember distinctly talking to him about this at some length, yet like the Soul Quest person, he also denied the interaction.  

Maybe my Ginette-is-God delusion has nothing to do with Ayahuasca or Aging but simply that I’ve lost touch with reality

It was a freaky coincidence that some, including Carl Jung, might call synchronicity, which holds that such collisions of events are “meaningful coincidences”. Yet, for me, both of these experience were not only as vivid and as real as a tooth ache but they were also absolutely unique. I couldn’t imagine a more unlikely set of coincidences, let alone believing that they were inventions on my part. https://www.carl-jung.net/synchronicity.html

I couldn’t help wonder if all this was my imagination, despite the apparent ‘meaningful coincidences’. Perhaps it is connected to an Ayahuasca hallucination that felt real at the time but was simply a projection of mine based on what I imagined I had already heard about Ginette in a prior conversation. 

I realize that my mind, body and heart are extensions of me but not me. They are my ego, with their own demands and agenda. My ’true self’ is not driven by my ego as it has its own separate and distinct demands and agenda. Both forces in each of our lives compete for control so perhaps my Ginette-is-God delusion is a casualty of my ongoing internal battle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion

Or else I could have simply gone off the rails from age-related degenerative mental impairment. I already notice some memory loss and have been recently evaluated regarding memory issues. A brain scan was done, to establish a base line, which confirmed some age related loss. In a standard test, administered by a nurse, I scored 29 out of 30. This result was a clear indication that my decline, although unnerving, is normal for my age. 

Then there is the possibility that I am going insane. The entire Ayahuasca experience has challenged my sense of reality from the get-go. At times it was difficult to separate what was real from what was not, even though I knew that my hallucinations were not physically real, the sensations were tangible. Maybe my Ginette-is-God delusion has nothing to do with Ayahuasca or Aging but simply that I’ve lost touch with reality. 

My true self, which I now see more clearly as childlike, curious, playful and spontaneous, resonates like a radio broadcast, which amplifies my too frequently unheeded signal 

I can’t help but wonder if God is moving in mysterious ways and that this is his/her/its way for me to understand that the cosmic consciousness is in each of us. Yet, this implies that God would not only has the time but the inclination to teach me lessons. It reminded me of my Mother praying and excepting answers to her prayers. At the time it was preposterous to me. I admired her faith but, until now, I didn’t understand it as love. 

I didn’t know what to say to Ginette that would start an acquaintance with her so I again drifted away with my thoughts. I thought about why this was happening to me now. Did these events happen now because now was when they needed to happen. I did seek God, after all. I did experience a transformative transformation. Yet, once again, it sounded too self-serving to be real. 

Maybe there is a guiding light in life. This was a firm belief of my late Mother but not one that I ever considered seriously. Now I’m not so sure what to think. I now know that there is a cosmic consciousness and given that belief, also believe that anything is possible. Perhaps a ‘guiding light’ is what others might call a guardian angel, who serves to protect whichever person is assigned to them and to present any and all respective prayers on that person’s behalf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guardian_angel

Guardian Angels, for me, represented the seductive idea of an individual letting go, surrendering to a higher authority. Yet, this might be a step too-far for me to take despite my acceptance of the concepts of spiritually letting go and surrendering. A guiding angel might seems like an easy fit in the new and revised me but, first I need to get past my aversion to man-made higher authorities, such as Religions.  

I’m observing Ginette’s gestures and actions as well as her words and deeds to obtain any insight into whether she is God, or not

I wish I knew a logical answer to this riddle. Using logic, however, may not help solve this mess. Perhaps I’m experiencing some Ayahuasca after effects or I’m having a mental breakdown. It’s possible but, from my perspective, my experiences are beyond the reach of our knowledge. After all, how could we even begin to understand the scientific basis for a cosmic consciousness? https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-cosmic-consciousness

Maybe I’m puzzled because I am using my limited perceptions and knowledge to understand something that is beyond my comprehension. Our knowledge evolves with time like it always has done. I’ve been socialized to think and act along the lines of our physical world that we are now discovering is not how it once seemed to be. In fact in the span of my life and perhaps yours there has been tremendous change, although very little understanding of the penetrating and profound insights of plants and mushrooms, let alone our spiritual existence.

It is a lot to digest so soon after the experience, especially now that I am sitting next to Ginette. Maybe The Ginette, who I totally ignored on last week’s flight despite the fact she sat across the aisle from me. Last week I ignored everyone. Last week I was just trying to survive. Now, I’m observing Ginette’s gestures and actions as well as her words and deeds to obtain any insight into whether she is God, or not.

Is she THE God or as I prefer, Cosmic Consciousness?

The idea of Ginette being ‘God, or at least God-like’ was a step further again from the physical world then I was comfortable embracing. I realize that God is, of course, everywhere, even in each of us. I guess, in a way, all of creation is God. So, technically, Ginette is God, despite nothing physical or provable. 

I can accept Ginette as God, as long as God is the spiritual cosmic consciousness. We all are God in that scenario and this is something I can support knowing that each of us has God’s love and compassion inside them. But why was I told to seek her or another person named Ginette? Is she THE God or as I prefer, Cosmic Consciousness. I am still open to what this experience means and hope that clarity will emerge somehow, sometime.

Despite our perversions of Religions and Gods, we are all a part of a cosmic consciousness that is God

Three separate events over the span of a few months is telling me something. Now I just need to grasp exactly what it might be. I’d like to believe that God is not simply in each of us and all of creation but that we are all mini-me versions of God. Yet, despite knowing we are all God, I see no specific reason to imagine Ginette as ‘the’ all-powerful, all-loving God that I knelt before in the past week. 

After the plane landed and we were waiting for our luggage not far from each other at the carousel, I gave her my name and email and told her that my wife and I would welcome her and her grandkids for an afternoon visit. She was polite but distant. 

I knew the gap between us would be too great for a protective, vulnerable person to jump. Nonetheless, I knew it would be a long shot no matter what I did or didn’t it. As I drove home after a week that seemed like a lifetime away I felt that, despite our perversions of Religions and Gods, we are all a part of a cosmic consciousness that is God.

Cosmic Connection – Day 6

My last full day in Orlando and I am having a quiet day at the hotel’s outdoor pool as I try to make sense out of my recent transcendent experiences. I know it will take a while but, while things are fresh, I will use the time I have attempting to gain so perspective. Maybe even begin to ‘humpty-dumpty’ myself back together, while basking in the restorative warmth. So much has happened in such a short time that it feels luxurious to have this day to myself before I begin another journey and return to another world order.  

Better minds than mine have settled on either a creationist or an evolutionary rationale but, after Ayahuasca, I am inclined towards a cosmic consciousness creating our world

As I lounge high above the din of street noise, I beatdown on takeaways from my time here as the sun beats down on me. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy since Ayahuasca has opened up another dimension, a cosmic dimension, in my life. This has opened up my internal debate around the existence of what many people refer to as God. After experiencing the warmth of a cosmic compassion and love it is difficult, for me, to deny the existence of a higher authority  

I think that I am still in shock in some ways. I almost can’t believe that a plant, Mother Ayahuasca, has the power to rip me apart in order for me to see myself more clearly. Is this plant a product of evolution or a higher authority? What is its purpose? What does it say about us when a plant provides something we need or something that is a doorway to something we need? 

It probably says that we need nature more than it needs us. That truism doesn’t answer the question of what created our world. As an agnostic, it has been easy to be cynical and dismissive until now. I don’t really know how to explain that a plant has made me question the evolutionary theory as the source of creation. Better minds than mine have settled on either a creationist or an evolutionary rationale but, after Ayahuasca, I am inclined towards a cosmic consciousness creating our world.

My transformative experience with Mother Ayahuasca has shifted my perspective away from external, out-of-my-control matters in my life

The last time I remember feeling such magic-like goodness like I have this week was when I believed in Santa Claus, over six decades ago. Back then, I felt like a part of a loving, supportive world. My parents were my loving guardians. Santa spread his joy around the world every year to good children, like me. Santa was magical. He was loving and generous, although, to be honest, a little judgemental. 

Mother Ayahuasca was the same, for me. Now, instead of just being good for Santa I need to stay true to true-self. Now it isn’t Santa or his ‘helpers’ keeping tabs on me as I’m on the honor system. Fortunately I’ve been rewired such that I now know exactly when I am deviating from who I truly am. It means that my childish, creative, and curious self needs more daylight, more sunshine. 

Life was simpler as a child. Everything was about exploring and learning. I lived in a kid-friendly neighbourhood in a time when parents didn’t hoover over their children or need to, especially. many non-school day were spend with a neighbourhood gang á la the ‘Little Rascals’ (50’s TV show). I fondly remember firecracker mishaps, discovering girly magazines in the woods and playing stick baseball on a meridian between two busy city streets all day long. Every day was different and no day was boring.

I was jolted out of my childhood when Santa Claus was revealed to be a hoax perpetuated by my loving parents. It was a rude awaking that launched my adolescence and started of a lifetime diet of disillusionments and disappointments.  As a child, I always imagined that our humanity and common sense would dictate a just world. Now, however, none of this seems important. My transformative experience with Mother Ayahuasca has shifted my perspective away from external, out-of-my-control matters in my life.

The way we think and act is not a matter of freedom of choice  

We are a predictable social species and, therefore, easy to manipulate and mould into unthinking followers that live a life distorted by special interests. This doesn’t just impact and influence crazy wing-nut fanatics, zealots, and extremists. It also controls each and every one of us, whether we are aware of it or not. Why we drink, smoke, ignore climate change or take other unnecessary risks harmful to our ecosystem, our brethren or even ourselves is all a function of social and individual manipulation.

Socialization, propaganda, and indoctrination prepares us for our society and culture and everything that this represents, both good and bad, and is essential for social progress. We have fundamentally different outlooks in life depending on where we were born and the circumstances of our lives. In India, I first judged all locals as miserable and destitute people then discovered most felt sorry for my spiritual poverty and were as happier than I’ve ever known. 

In the West, progress is yet another ideal that serves special interests above individual needs. It raises the question what is social progress? Is it the economy? Clean environment? Happiness? Peace? When we have debt and duties, when we fail to think or act beyond the next pay check, we join our brethren on the path paved by deceit and lies: conformity.

But taking the road more travelled didn’t serve the proverbial lemmings that unthinkingly joined a mass movement and committed mass suicide, which, ironically, was fabricated by Disney ‘documentaries’ of the 1950’s and 60’s. The ‘lesson’ was clear, no matter the source for  it is clear the way we think and act is not a matter of freedom of choice.

I could see through social manipulation but never fully appreciated that I was also vulnerable

Our socialized selves are easily fashioned into compliant consumers, workers and citizens whose desires, needs and duties allow little or no aspirations beyond survival. Happiness is just one more purchase, promotion or child away from being realized. The goal is to take away our choices and make us predisposed to buy things and ideals. It become a reinforcing cycle, fed by the self-interests of others and nourished by a lack of critical thinking. 

As individuals, we think in terms of a narrow perspective of our socialized and monetized lives. We are what we see and do, not what we think. We think that our lives matter or that we are important but we act against our better knowledge to maintain the status quo. The inherit message of having being manipulated by others is that you are enslaved to someone else’s desires and happiness. It is seldom an obvious choice as such manipulation is often involuntary because it is either wrapped in a flag, fear-based, sexually suggestive or projecting a positive self image, like the cancer-free Marlboro Man. 

I’ve had several mis-steps in my life. My eventual career took three wrong turns: electronics, acting and psychology and my eventual life partnership took three marriages, five children and a more conscious self to realize. No question I regret the suffering that I’ve caused but I do not regret having my children or making my difficult decisions. I wish that my needs were more apparent to me at the start of a journey. 

I choose my life’s path willingly and gladly.  Inevitably, I discovered what personal needs were non-negotiable when the fullness of the circumstances were revealed and my flush of enthusiasm had paled. At the root of that discovery was the fact that my choices were often for the wrong reasons, none of which had to do with my needs as an individual. Ironically I always felt that I was aware, that I could see through social manipulation but never fully appreciated that I was also vulnerable.

I was ‘converted’ by a cosmic chiropractor that aligned me to a new reality, one that has made it possible to see and experience another dimension in my everyday reality

None of the life-long societal moulding prepared mefor what I experienced this week. It was beyond the scope of the physical world that I have known. Not just the hallucinations and insights but the feelings of a higher consciousness and overwhelming love and acceptance. It was the ‘magic’ that I once whole-heartedly invested in with the higher powers,  my society, parents and Santa, that I knew as a child. But now I no longer was an innocent child. I began the week as a healthy skeptic. 

I was someone who struggled to believe in a higher power. I have lost my faith in the Roman Catholic Church because they have lost their way, and, perhaps never even had a way.  I sought other religions that seemed either more relevant or more inspirational but nothing has really stuck. Nor have I ever completely believed in an all-powerful, all-loving super-being called God. Perhaps it was just too early for me after my all-powerful, all-loving super-being Santa bubble burst.

Or it could be my education, which featured rote-learning through memorization and didn’t teach critical-thinking until University. At that point science and logic prevailed. Creationists were mocked and evolution embraced. It was absurd for the intelligentsia to even comprehend another version of anything that didn’t exist in the physical world. To do so opened up a can of worms that circled the ephemeral and the essence of spirituality. 

I didn’t have expectations so much as fears for my health and well-being this past week. Yet everything that I knew fell apart this past week. I was ‘converted’ by a cosmic chiropractor that aligned me to a new reality, one that has made it possible to see and experience another dimension in my everyday reality.

I truly believed that I have been blessed by some higher authority who was growing weary of my trail of failed marriages and my circuitous struggle for enlightenment

So, with all the forces working to shape each and everyone of us into social compliance how do I, or anyone, transform in to a more fully realized individual? There are a lot of choices but only one prerequisite that I’ve known and that is awareness. It starts with becoming aware of yourself. Your mind, body and heart will lead you into the the right zone if you take the time to reflect on why you feel and act the way that you do? 

Self-discovery occurred later in life for me and this is one of the few regrets that I have in my life. I have failed relationships and marriages but, yet, I didn’t see the pattern and when I did glimpse it I still felt in control. I was happy in my life but only because I had leant to live in various compartments. Some compartments were wonderful, most were alright and some were lonely. But like many of my changes in life, once my pain was no longer tolerable than I had already surrendered my control over the situation. I needed to act.

Today I have only one compartment: contentment.It is all I needed until I experienced the Ayahuasca-illuminated path to honor my true self. Since then, I have gained the wholistic perspective that I have always felt that I needed to be have a higher consciousness. Now after nearly twenty years in my ‘last-room’ marriage I truly believed that I have been blessed by some higher authority who was growing weary of my trail of failed marriages and my circuitous struggle for enlightenment.

It is my destiny to be in a constant struggle to reach a higher level of consciousness in order to live more in concert with who I am 

Now, of all times during my tumultuous life, to experience a higher version of long-time content self the moment that I have chosen, this time of contentment may appear superfluous. Yet, although I am content, I am also curiousand know that I knew to get out of my head and live in the moment. It is something I know but seldom realize. It is an epic battle for sovereignty fought between my ego and my true-self. 

There is no widely accepted path from unawareness to a higher consciousness or enlightenment, especially in Western society. My well-being, your well-being is each of our own individual responsibility. Yet, I seldom acted on that knowledge for most of my life and, probably, still do. I was too busy, too distracted, too ignorant of my own individual needs.

Now, even in my current state of contentment, I know this need is still present. Maybe more than ever for contentment, like apathy, does create a certain lack of inertia, after all. Most of know something about apathy because many of us still expect the government to solve our problems or weekend religions to save our souls. 

I’ve learnt that you need to be engaged in your own life. You need to more than a passenger just along for the ride. At nearly 70 I still believe in Santa Clause and that there is an all-powerful, all-loving super-being that looks after us. Now, even as an adult, I believe that much of life is largely unknowable to us. Nonetheless, I am in a constant struggle to reach a higher level of consciousness in order to live more in concert with who I am. 

Turning On My Heart – Day 5

The freaky paintings in my room came alive for me last night. I really needed to sleep and was so looking forward to a deep, undisturbed slumber. Nonetheless, I was unnerved from the depressing portraits of the people and life in the 19th century and had one of the worst night’s sleep in the past five nights which have all been characterized by sleep deprivation. Ironically, my sleepless night occurred despite all my efforts to arrange a quiet room on a quiet floor and in a quiet hotel and nothing to do in the morning but sleep. 

The instinctive act of empathizing with these still paintings was a surprisingly remarkably immersive experience

Instead of falling asleep, I fell into the despair and gloom depicted in the paintings on the walls of my room. I wasn’t interested in the details of the painting for they were real to me despite everything might suggest the opposite. For what seemed like hours, I was stuck in their real or imagined nightmarish lives. 

In the first of three portraits, a young gypsy has a distant, thoughtful look as if he is struggling to overcome an insolvable problem. In another, a cultured lady inadequately disguises her despair in a puffy, dark green dress and bright red hair bows, long gloves and lips. The tone of the final portrait was much the same as the other portraits, but here the plain, unadorned woman appears even more dispirited and disheartened.

I was compelled by what I imagined the subjects of the paintings experienced at that specific moment in their lives. In the scenic painting of a lonely bent relic of a person, who, dwarfed by a lifeless house and a barren tree, shuffles into the bleak landscape with its familiar menacing shadows and foreboding sky. The instinctive act of empathizing with these still paintings was a surprisingly remarkably immersive experience. 

For me, all the paintings were portals into the spirit and ‘soul’ of these individuals in history but these portraits transcended time and place and served as depictions that were prototypical for all mankind. Each of us and all of us were portrayed in these horribly sad scenes of beaten down or broken people. I could feel their anguish and despair as if they were alive and important in my life. 

It helped me to connect the pain and suffering of others with my belief that our world was a shared, rather than an individual experience.

As I continued to enter the paintings, my skin suddenly came alive as if I was experiencing an icy breeze on my bare skin. Periodically, I shivered uncontrollably. My peripheral vision became distorted as my fear became one with me and we become more and more inseparable to each other. I tried but was unable to turn the paintings around. 

Walking to my bathroom was frightening in the dark stillness of my room. When I turned on the bathroom light, I had goose bumps on my arms and a shiver going down my spine. My body  was anticipating something waiting for me, something that I didn’t suspect or want. In the harsh light I saw nothing unusual and knew that it was all my imagination 

Maybe I’m alright. Maybe I’m not. I don’t know. When I stared at myself in the mirror I saw a man who couldn’t get a handle on his own fears. I felt like I was loosing control of reality, my reality. The paintings made me feel that I was lost and, at the same time, like I had found my humanity. I felt good with this insight. It helped me to connect the pain and suffering of others with my belief that our world was a shared, rather than an individual experience.

I cannot always distinguish between what is real and what isn’t, in fact, knowing the difference is not always enough to overcome my trigger fears. 

It was around 5 in the morning but I pulled back the window shades and saw the first light of day. It was enough to change my rhythm, to start my day. At the lounge I engaged with the person in charge of the breakfast food. When I told her that I was awake by 3:00am, she told me that she was awake at 2:30am every work day and needed to get her child ready for school and then travel by three buses to work in time to offer a 6am breakfast service. 

I could literally feel my fears start to melt away as I thought about her struggle to survive another day. Yet she tried to comfort me. We hugged and I felt connected to her. I had turned my gaze outward, away from my fears and over-active imagination. We talked a bit about her child until other hotel guests arrived and abruptly ended our conversation. I gathered my breakfast, including some energy bars for the day, then walked barefoot in my sweat pants and t-shirt back to my room. 

As I showered and shaved I thought about how whether my recent life-changing experiences have been remarkable given how little sleep I have the past week or, rather, because I was sleep-deprived. In any event I still function, even if in altered states of consciousness. I also wonder why I was so emotionally connected today when yesterday I was so cognitively connected.  As I started my last full day in Orlando with the hope I could find a functioning  balance between my Ayahuasca transformed life to my every day reality in the ‘real’ world. 

I departed the hotel with the realization that my fears were within my power to control. It is such an obvious realization but one that I sometimes struggle to fully appreciate. I am a pawn to my irrational anxieties for they, too, are part of me. I cannot always distinguish between what is real and what isn’t, in fact, knowing the difference is not always enough to overcome my trigger fears.

I realized that my mood was different today. I was less cerebral, more driven by my heart

I decided to explore my neighbourhood. On the first street corner, a homeless person with a generous smile saluted me as I approached. Before returning his salute I weighed the fact that I wasn’t a veteran or an American but, recognizing his gesture, I honoured his greeting with a return salute. We chatted briefly. He had prime real estate and knew his market well enough to strike the right notes. I made him a few dollars happier, at which point he blessed me. I gratefully accepted his blessing and wished him well.

As I continued my walk I asked a person on the sidewalk for directions to a health food restaurant. When I commented on his agitated state he explained that he just started a new job, cold-calling businesses for advertising in a local paper. He wasn’t doing well and as I walked with him for a couple blocks as he told me his life story. He was a guy trying to do the right thing, to support his family with no skills and no job prospects. He was scared so I told him about my first and last door-to-door experience selling encyclopedias that ended in a sales person’s nightmare. 

I encouraged him to dig deep and told him that it was his time to be a warrior. He opened up to me more about his struggles and when we parted ways it seemed like we both got something good from the random encounter. For my part, I not only appreciated that everyone was the center of their universe and that we all suffer from the same or similar journeys in life but also that each of us has the power to control our respective destinies.

‘You are expelling negative things that no longer serve you…stay focus on your new life and perspective on things’

As I continued my unhurried journey through Orlando, I remember how much I enjoyed exploring a city in my youth when I walked city streets all night long to see the authentic side of a place. Now I was more cautious but, even so, that didn’t mean I had to stop exploring or avoid confronting my fears.It was easy to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time but equally as easy to connect with my humanity, to remember my good fortune in life when so many others have lost their way. 

I distributed energy bars to each homeless or street person that I encountered. I liked the idea better than money as then I knew that had a positive healthy impact. I was more in tune with this approach then when I offer to buy some cigarettes for the woman at Soul Quest who helped me during a long night of my first and only frightening hallucination. She was out of cigarettes and I unthinkingly offered to buy her some until I realized that this was only facilitating an unhealthy habit. 

Then it struck me that I was now facilitating my own unhealthy habits. I returned to the hotel and asked them to remove the art in my room. As I waited I reached out to Carlos for his advice. He promptly replied saying ‘you are expelling negative things that no longer serve you…stay focus on your new life and perspective on things’.

As I reflected on Carlos’s wisdom, the art was being removed from my room by two hotel staff who explained that they often get similar requests. I asked why the hotel persisted to exhibit paintings that had shown to be unpleasant to hotel guests. They shrugged in off saying that they were told art was subjective and everyone sees it differently. I knew that they were not the right people to direct my complain towards so I simply asked them if the art in my room was typically a source of complaint then why continue to feature it.  

With my awareness and knowledge I can begin the journey to control my ego-driven mind and emotions.

At the hotel, I packed for tomorrow’s return flight home. I have so many souvenirs from my Ayahuasca experience to arrange. My crested Soul Quest shot glass used for my first Ayahuasca ceremony, leaves that fell on me at the outdoor Ayahuasca ceremony and discarded ceremonial medicine flowers used by a Shuar traditional Medicine woman in the third and last Ayahuasca ceremony as well as my white plastic vomit bucket (that I learnt to call ‘my friend’) I used in the last and most productive Kambo ceremony.

As I lay in bed I was reminded of the haunting paintings from the wall marks that still outline their shapes. I was drawn to the two-dimensional expression of emotions through tone, light, shadow and the depiction a certain reality of an unknown time and place that still resonates today. Yet, I’m relieved that they are gone as are the feelings of anguish and fear that I experienced. They likely will return as I know it will take training and dedication to change my deeply rooted habits. 

Nonetheless, I have awakened and it is a beautiful time in my life to learn what it takes to be present and to stay in the moment that puts distractions in their proper place. I now know that I can control my emotions when I stay focused on ‘my new life and perspective on things’ as Carlos has suggested. In other words, I have the tools to begin the journey to be my true-self and control my ego-driven mind and emotions. 

Turning off my Mind – Day 4c

When I parted the beautiful alternate reality of Soul Quest, Carlos drove me to my downtown hotel, the Grand Bohemian. He was puzzled why I didn’t select a more affordable or a more conveniently located hotel but I had my reasons. I wanted tranquility from a non-Disney oriented hotel with room service and a pool. I needed this time to decompress in order to have an easier reentry back into the mainstream. Carlos, however, understood but seemed unconvinced that I was acting wisely.

At first I thought about my relative isolation at Soul Quest and that I mostly managed to ignore the broader culture of the outside world. I had quickly acclimatized at Soul Quest and was seldom reminded that I was visiting the US. I could almost be forgiven for concluding that everything I saw was mostly the same as Canada wth the exception of the hot weather and legal Ayahuasca. 

As we drove I couldn’t shut off my busy mind. I couldn’t let go of the distraction from everything around me. It was a stimulus overload. I expected it would be a rough transition but I never expected a heightened state that I couldn’t readily regulate. So I went with it. As Carlos navigated traffic and as my mind went into a an stimulus rich environment I began to see some of the differences.

But Orlando is not just about materialism, it is also about ‘manufacturing consent’. 

As we weaved our way through traffic to my hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder how different the world would have been if love was our motivation as a species instead of prosperity, power and prestige. Materialism, of course, lifts us up above our ancestors but doesn’t, in itself, provide for a healthier, happier life. What would our world look like if we had chosen spirituality as a goal over materialism? 

Then I remembered my plane ride to Orlando. There were four or five little girls onboard who were already outfitted in feminine Disney products, complete with Disney princess suitcases. Their materialistic values as well as their roles and relationships in life were clearly influenced by their middle aged mothers, who fought the progress of their years with almost identical little girl, barbie doll looks complete with youthful clothes and dyed blond hairstyles. 

Even from remote Canadian fishing communities little girls learn that charming men is not only an acceptable way of life but a path to marriage and hopefully everlasting love. Yet, the Disney story is the American dream incarnate. Making something out of nothing. The little guy fighting all the odds. The vast empire today that provides joy and prosperity to countless people every year, however, it also creates life-long aspirations fashioned by fantasies and, for little girls, a life lesson that charm is valued above competency. 

The richest country in the world has made peace with being always at war, even with its own people.

Ayahuasca opened me up to the connectivity that we humans share with other life forms and each other. We are, after all brothers and sisters regardless of position in society, race, gender or tribal affiliation. But as we approached my destination the clean streets and modern buildings are littered with the disenfranchised homeless on nearly every street corner. 

Here in the richest country in the World our brothers and sisters, where million of Americans sleep in shelters, transitional housing, and public places not meant for human habitation, poverty makes survival more pressing than long term aspirations and opportunities possible through education and proper health care. Here, in the ‘land of the free’, freedom, for some, means being born into crippling generational poverty and life in a culture that looks at the surface and not the roots of a problem.

But it’s also different here, for instance, in New York where I’ve seen homeless sleeping on sidewalk doorways or like San Francisco where I’ve seen the home living in cardboard shelters like. The Homeless have become the new normal for Western cities but here such reality is largely sanitized for the Disney experience. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education, at least 2,000 children live in cheap, crowded motels in central Florida and on the highway leading to Disney World. An invisible problem, however, is still a problem even though we choose to ignore it.

Is it any wonder that Americans rate America as not a happy place to live?

Soul Quest also opened my eyes to the how extensive trauma is in the lives of ordinary people in America. Maybe it’s the same in Canada but I don’t think to the same degree. It seems like there are a lot of people in America that are not only traumatized but who have no where to turn for effective treatment and an alternative to suicide. 

America has always struck me as an immature country not yet comfortable with its own strength. The states is truly divided, except when united from nationalism or fear. They fear socialism but few are happy under their version of capitalism. I understand that there are problems with socialism and it is often confused with communism but I don’t understand why Americans choose to ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’ when, as a people, they are largely unhappy with the status quo.

There are better examples in the world where people who live under capitalistic governance are happier than America. Canada consistently rates higher on the happiness scale than America. In Nordic countries, such as Denmark, where socialism and capitalism work hand and glove the Danes and other Nordic countries are consistently among the happiest people in the world. Compare that to the happiness in America, where every hour there are nearly 30 killings, 10 rapes and 4 suicides. Is it any wonder that Americans rate America as not a happy place to live? 

It is difficult to calculated the cost of traumatized lives. For the individuals and families traumatized it is impossible. For society, however, it means that money and man-hours wasted on a problem that doesn’t ever go away. It simply resurfaces both with those that struggle to survive their lives and those that live in fear that they might be next to be raped or killed.   

The hotel was a not-so-well-disguised wink and a nod to the rich and wealthy who created this oasis of privilege. 

As I unpacked, I consciously choose to ignore the outside world of television and radio. I didn’t want to see or hear more violence and/or suffering. I didn’t want hear opinionated people yelling or see breaking news about more mass killings. I simply wanted to get back into a sacred head-space in order to process the Soul Quest experience, which had ignited the brotherly love inside me but it now flickered against the first head-winds that I encountered.

I needed two nights to myself before returning home on my once-a-week return flight. I knew that the ordeal of the last few days as well as the stress of integrating back into society would be harsh. I wanted to better understand the virtue of what I experienced while it was fresh and I was open to change. I knew that my experiences revealed my true self and answered many of my concerns but I also knew that without a supportive community all this is especially difficult to nourish.

I don’t plan to go very far afield so avoiding more public venues, even the hotel restaurant, so I rented a room located on the ‘executive level’ to ensure a quieter environment and unfettered access via the executive lounge for snacks and breakfast. When I first went to the executive lounge to get some water it was empty and quiet except for CNN in the background. As I got closer to the TV behind the bar area I saw that The Notre-Dame Cathedral was burnt almost to the ground and Wolf Blitzer was frantically milking the human misery from its ashes. 

I need find a way to still my mind before I lose it

His superficial coverage is symptomatic of the state of ‘journalism’ today in America. It stems from a corporate culture and revenue based services dedicated to political divides. In an America that fails millions of Americans it is more than just another reminder that American culture ignores the roots of a problem. It is part of the problem through its self-interests, complacency and biases. 

Yet who am I to judge? Better yet, why do I judge?  I no longer struggle to build a better society. I no longer hold the view that anyone can make a difference. My hope for a better world has slowly faded during my lifetime. There were signs of hope such as the removal of Nixon and the rise of the Hippies and then Trump followed Obama. I now question who among us can alter the destructive course we have all willfully or silently embarked upon. 

I was never a hippie but in my heart I always will be one. Not the hippie that is only seeking sex drugs and rock and roll but one who connects with nature, fellow travellers and has a healthy suspicion of the military/industrial complex. In other words, one who is awake and conscious, one whose values include creating a better, healthier world. Yet, this and all the other signs of hope have been dismantled systematically by the greed of capitalism.

At first I was fascinated by this tragedy, but, the sensational reporting soon got to me. I didn’t feel comfortable shutting off this public TV so I just tuned it out. I understand that it is really impossible to shut out the outside world but selective exposure is my preference over over exposure. At the same time, however, I came to realize that since I left Should Quest that I’ve been not grounded in the present moment and that I need find a way to still my mind before I lose it.   

I am all alone in my room and all alone in this city with no bearings and no-one to connect with that I could share my plight

This would be huge for me. I can easily lose quality sleep and waste precious time with matters that are either abstract and not important to me personally. I realize that I probably will need to pursue meditation as well as seek a supportive community. I feel that these two goals are the reasonable next steps in my journey.

I don’t feel a supportive community is an option for me given my age and isolation. I would value such a community but will need to cherish the times when it occurs rather then regret the times that it doesn’t. For, now, however, I need to find my balance. I must learn to integrate within the larger world while putting external distractions aside and to stay in the present. Meditation is something this post demonstrates that I need and convinces me that it should be a step on my transformative journey.

I had known that the ‘real world’ transition can be rough but today’s post on Disney, homeless, happiness and ‘flower power’ was not only an unexpected ‘stream of consciousness’ but reminiscent of being stuck in an Ayahuasca loop. I felt almost unable to control my own thoughts and for a while felt a little scared. From my experience loops are learning experiences that one needs to pay attention to. I also know this from being stuck in a rut like so many others I have known.

Now, As I sit silently all alone in my room and in this unfamiliar city. I have no bearings, metaphorically or geographically speaking, and no-one close enough to help guide me, especially those I love back in Canada. Yet, despite my gloomy reality, I took comfort from the fact that Ayahuasca opened up my heart and that I had experienced and likely am still experience some sort of cosmic love and acceptance. It gave me strength to know I wasn’t alone but part of sometime that up until now I couldn’t even imagine. I felt blessed and believed that this blessing would always be with me as long as I tune into it and not be preoccupied by everyday distractions. 

My Unvarnished Self-Day 4b

The long night has become my last day at Soul Quest. I wanted to stay connected with everyone but also knew that these feel good experiences have a way of evaporating once back into the demands of everyday life. As I saw people with their suitcases and backpacks depart I was struck by how special this moment was and how best to remember it.

I needed to dig deep inside me and that it was my time to be the warrior

However, when I connected with my Uber driver and Kambo guide, Carlos, he convinced me to have another Kambo session first. I’ve had two sessions already but Carlos informed me that having a third session within the same moon phase would solidify and increase the life span of the Kambo’s intended and desired result. It was a measure of my trust in him and my heightened Soul Quest openness that I so readily postponed my intended farewells.

This Kambo experience Carlos wanted for me was focused on deep purging. The deeper the purging the greater the potential medical and psycho-spiritual benefits. I threw up a lot in the previous sessions but never had any dark vomit, only clear or light yellow. Instead of consuming the requisite four litres of water I was required to drink previously, I now faced the intimidating task of drinking six litres. My initial react was that it was not possible, at least for me.

I knew by now that Kambo is a battle. I barely managed to consume the required quantity of water in two previous sessions and now I was told to push past the stomach pain and have even more. I was told that it was a matter of mind over matter. So I set out to face yet another challenge when I thought that today would be just a matter of saying goodbye to dear friends.

As I assumed the now familiar posture on a mat beside a throw-up bucket I imagined consuming 50 percent more water in 20 minutes or so. I have set my daily rate at 2.5 litres based upon my body and age and already struggle to accomplish this during a 24 hour period. A litre every 3 minutes felt simply undoable. I hated the idea. Carl, however, calmed my anxieties gently telling me that I needed to dig deep inside and that it was my time to be the warrior. 

I mostly managed the pain but was surprised by the duration and depth of my bodily expulsions.

As I struggled with what being a warrior might possibly entail, I was momentarily distracted when Carlos asked where I wanted the last four burn marks. After some discussion I became aware that the previous five burn marks coupled with today’s four burn marks represented myself and all those who I love or have loved during my life. It was perfect. I have three wives (two divorces) and five children. I now knew that this was the right ting for me to do now.

Carlos methodically lined up today’s Kambo burn marks. The significance of my ‘four directions’ shoulder tattoo then hit me. I had always seen this tattoo as representative of my Metis heritage. I have full native status in Canada. The nine burn marks and this tattoo represents my life and is unique suitability to me.

I have long put aside the bittersweet memories of past marriage partners but, deep in my I know that I will always love them. It felt right, perhaps overdue, to acknowledge them as a foundational part of my life and the mothers of my beautiful children. It also felt like the right time as now I am embarking on another, more spiritual chapter, of my life journey. I didn’t know what lay ahead or even what today might bring but I knew that the circuitous path that I have taken to get here made this moment, this realization, a profound experience for me.

After the Kambo was fully administer and some hesitant drinking experience I a wet fart. I was delighted by the fact that I again didn’t need to crawl the distance but once in the outdoor bathroom stall I didn’t want to leave out of fear of more such embarrassing incidents. I was uncertain how best to proceed. Shortly, however, I cleaned myself up and returned to the ceremony. I knew that staying in the stall was not a viable option once Kambo kicks into gear.

When I settled once again I leaned into the experience as others outside the ceremonial tent embraced each other and slowly began to depart. I wanted to be in two places at the same time but this quickly passed as the Kambo drink-a-thon progressed. It was more intense but also more rewarding that any previous Kambo experience. I mostly managed the pain but was surprised by the duration and depth of my vomit. One in particular seemed to go on forever which caused Carlos to call me a champion.

I felt a certain pride to have completed my third Kambo in four days, along with everything else in spite of my sorry state.

I didn’t feel much like a champion, however. Nor did I look much like one. I was by now only wearing my short summer pants, no socks or shoes, no t-shirt and no underwear. I had left my soiled underwear discretely in the bathroom stall and managed to tell a staff member that I would return for this in due course.

This was the best arrangement that I could make as I was under the influence so going to my room was not an option. The only problem was that I had no belt and after fasting the last 4 days my short pants had a tendency to slip down. I clearly had let myself go during this ‘retreat’. I had clearly become less self-conscious. No-one was judgemental and everyone accepted who I am over my appearance or what I am.

Not only was my general appearance suddenly obvious to me but so was my general lack of good hygiene. I had not shaven or even properly cleaned my teeth for far too long to be excused my circumstances. Yet, at the same time, I also felt that this entire experience was essential an out-of-body experience for me. After all, even eating and sleeping became luxuries. Nonetheless, I felt a certain pride to have completed my third Kambo in four days, along with everything else in spite of my sorry state. 

Taking souvenir pictures of my support community was a lot of fun, at least for me

When Carlos released me I again began to focus on creating a memorable moment or some sort of lasting impression. I realized that some people had already left but more still hanging out, enjoying the last moments together as a community. I grabbed my phone and some props  and began to arrange pictures with everyone that I had connected with in the past few days. To make it more engaging I created a narrative. 

I asked each person that I wanted our picture together to choose the background as long as it meant something special to them. I had received permission to take a bouquet of ceremonial plants and added these to my large plastic bag of medications and an apple. I asked each person when the moment came for a picture together to hold onto the bouquet and apple as I held the medications. 

Everything made sense to me. The bouquet is our common ground, the medications represented the start of my journey. The apple symbolized the lost of our garden of eden and the disconnection we now have with the destruction of our world, our ecosystem. At every new picture I took another bite from the apple so that it started as a whole apple and ended as a meagre core of its former self. 

When the picture was being taken I asked the photographer who I had randomly conscripted to hold the button so that a series of phots would capture the specialness of the moment. Once the we were set I created to the circumstances. As the picture taking proceeded I might either saw something heart felt like ‘I really value our time together’ or ‘I love you’ but I might also try to kiss the men on the lips. Taking souvenir pictures of my support community was a lot of fun, at least for me.

 I felt accepted here as my true, unvarnished self

I will miss everyone that were part of my experience whether they stayed with me when I most needed it or annoyed me or if they were simply a passing exchange. They were almost more than brothers and sisters to me for everyone has shared a deeper, more meaningful experience that I have had with any of my real sisters and brothers. 

I especially sought out Krystal who I had already empatically told that I rejected her sexually suggestive ‘I love you’. Krystal was delighted. She was shocked by my ‘betrayal’ and adamant that she wasn’t being sexual. We were friends again. During the moment of the picture I looked at her and I told her that I loved her. She began to cry and I felt closer to her, again.

Today I felt that I was briefly living my ’true self’, something that Dr. Scot understood when he said ‘you are more fun than colonics, and I love colonics’ and others have described as a warrior and a seeker. I now can view my old body in the context of one of the happiest moments in my life. I must have presented a surreal backdrop with my vomiting but everyone seemed to take it in stride, another day another deep dive but I felt accepted here as my true, unvarnished self. 

For me, this experience required the right attitude and loving myself enough to invest in my true self and higher consciousness.

As I walked to my room I felt that no matter how I looked or how exhausted I felt that I was one of the happiest experiences of my life. I learnt to not fear death, or life. I overcame my health fears and anxieties and for a brief moment became a warrior. I reconnected with my true self. I connected with a spiritual force and a cosmic love through death and rebirth. Would I recommend this experience to others? Yes, but with reservations. Every person is different and every person is dealing with their own issues so it requires the right attitude and loving yourself enough to invest in your true self and higher consciousness.