Identity Solstice 2022
I have known that we are not who or what we “think” we are for decades. The mental images and the feelings they induce, and identify with, are no more our essence that a sticky label on a slice of gum. And yet, believing them often crushes us.
More than an image or belief, “identity” is an ontological (expressing the essence or the nature of being) force that, like a magnet is to iron filings, organizes and sustains what we call reality, including physics, biology, and what is imagined. It is done onto you as you believe. Implicit, “reality is relative.”
The title of Joseph Chilton Pearce’s first, groundbreaking book, “The Crack in the Cosmic Egg,” defined the cosmic egg, an ancient Vedic concept, as our self-world-view, in other words, reality and its identity. With ‘it’s done onto you as you believe,’ belief being this organizing reality-identity force as the maxim, Joe noted in the opening of that book, ‘a change in world view – changes the world viewed.’ Far more tangible and profound for Joe, this meant that fire would not burn him, and it did not. Similarly, Joe’s first wife Patty had terminal cancer. With unquestioned acceptance, Joe surrounded Patty in his reality-changing force and literally watched her lesions disappear before his and her eyes. Indeed, a change in our self-world-view changes the world viewed, including our biology. All of this is well documented in Joe’s publications, is supported by decades of research on spontaneous remissions, and resonates with the core message of Gabor Maté’s new book.
50,000 years ago, more or less, something unprecedented happened, the neocortex exploded like a mushroom, and with it the capacity to imagine, to make up stories, thus giving each human being the creative capacity to literally rival the Gods. Humanity’s self and world-view changed. Abstract mental images changed our world view and that changed the world viewed. Except, as Goethe described in 1797 with "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," we don’t know what we are doing. Time for that to change.
10,000 years ago small band hunter-gatherers began to settle, farm the land and raise domesticated animals. More stuff to count gave greater weight to the concept of ‘me’ and ‘mine.’ The more stuff one had the more important the image of a separate, isolated self-image became, changing how we viewed the world, which changed, even more, the world viewed.
Because this emerging capacity to imagine was so new, no one seemed to notice how false and even delusional ideas, mental images, and concepts slipped in, pushing aside what was, for millions of years, the innate expression of our true and authentic nature. Awareness of our original mind was missing. A profound and systemic ‘misuse of memory,’ appeared, grew, and dominated. Self-centered image-making captured human consciousness. David Bohm observed:
We don't really understand the nature of our thought process; we're not aware of how it works and how it's really disrupting, not only our society and our individual lives but also the way the brain and nervous system operate, making us unhealthy or perhaps even someway damaging the system.
Thought, rational, orderly, factual thought, such as in proper doing science, is valuable, but the kind of thought that concerns us is self-centered thought. At first sight, one might wonder why self-centered thought is so bad. If the self were really there then perhaps it would be correct to center on the self because the self would be so important, but if the self is a kind of illusion, at least the self as we know it, then to center our thought on something illusory, which is assumed to have supreme importance, is going to disrupt the whole process. It will not only make thoughts about yourself wrong, it will make thought about everything wrong, so that thought becomes a dangerous and destructive instrument all around.
Because this image of the self, the concept, is assumed to be all-important, the brain starts to develop a defense mechanism (a story) to defend this image against the perception of its falseness or illusory character. You can see this very easily. If somebody says, "You are an idiot," there is immediately a response to say, "You're wrong. I'm not an idiot.” Followed by all sorts of false explanations to show that you are OK and the other person is the idiot. But this is minor compared with the tremendous energy that comes in when the very existence of this image is threatened by some evidence that it is only an image, an illusion. Then, the entire brain and nervous system starts to be disrupted.
The major form of defense is concealment of what's going on. Like seeing through the trick of a magician, if we could see what's going on it would be obvious it's an illusion. In all the ways I've described, such as forgetting, zapping your mind, or jumping to something else, all are modes of concealment. You may also conceal by denying that it's so and asserting something else. Therefore, we are not conscious, certainly of the defense mechanism, because this process of concealment itself has to be concealed in order to make the defense effective. Therefore, the major defense consists in making the whole process unconscious. [A process that extends beyond images of self to include society and culture.]
The critical point; rarely does what is imagined and therefore believed, accurately represent our authentic nature. If it did, thought, feeling, and action will be coherent, healthy, and whole. If not, our behavior, as it relates to our authentic nature, will be incoherent, a state we call dis-ease in the body and mind, and in the society and culture, this dis-eased state manifests. Recall, true or false, “it is done onto us as we believe.”
Our great challenge; the more powerful and enchanting imagined images are, the more we assume these falsely reified images ‘are real.’ The teacher J. Krishnamurti summed up the conflict:
One's relationship with another is based on memory. On the various images, pictures, and conclusions I have drawn about you and you have drawn about me. The various images that I have about you, wife, husband, girl or boy or friend, and so on, there is always image making.
When one is married or lives with a girl or a boy every incident, every word, every action creates an image. You can actually see it for yourself. A word is registered, if it is pleasant you purr. It is nice. If it is unpleasant, you will immediately shrink from it and that creates an image. The pleasure creates an image; the shrinking, the withdrawal creates an image. So, our actual relationship with each other is based on various subtle forms of pictures, images, and conclusions.
When there is an image like that, she has and you have, then in that there is division and the whole conflict begins, right? Where there is division between two images, there must be conflict, The Jew, the Arab, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian, the Communist, it is the same phenomenon.
It is a basic law, that where there is division between images there must be conflict. The man may say to the woman or the woman may say to the man "I love you", but basically, they are not related at all. Then the factor arises, can all this image-making, tradition, all that end, without a single conflict? Now, how can this mechanism of image-making, not just image-making, the tradition, the whole structure of that, can that end?
Krishnamurti, Brockwood Park, England 1979
What happens when imagination ends? Another, more authentic, core, indigenous state of perception and insight fills our awareness, guides our interpretations, reactions and behavior. We will come back to this.
I’m honored to call Darcia Narvaez and Gabor Maté friends, both passionate about uplifting humanity by reducing suffering. Gabor peers through a trauma lens. Darcia looks through morality, what goodness looks and feels like, and how this expresses very early in what she calls, “The Evolved Nest.” With brilliant insight and tons of experience, Gabor shares in “The Myth of Normal, Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture,” the root of much suffering, in the body and psyche, is rooted in the conflict between “Authenticity and Attachment,” attachment being acceptance and belonging. “Unquestioned acceptance of the given” is Jean Piaget’s description of the early child. What if that ‘given’ is toxic? Imagine the conflicts each child experiences trying to adapt, reconcile and navigate the conflict between his or her authentic nature, expectations, and needs and the poison they encounter. Imagine how this mostly tacit stress expresses in the body and mind, the main theme of Maté’s collected works.
Darcia’s primary focus is to identify what authentic means, essential needs, and how, for at least ninety-five percent of human existence, these needs were met. That is, before we became civilized, about ten thousand years ago, and built the increasingly toxic cultures Gabor writes about. As David Bohm observed: thought, the stories we imagine, “becomes a dangerous and destructive instrument all around,” and that is the generative source of humanity’s identity.
Appreciating, we can’t solve a problem at the level of the problem, David correctly notes; “existing knowledge, meaning typical thought, can’t meet this challenge, something much deeper is needed. A completely different approach.” We can’t use thought, as it is so often used, to solve this humongous challenge. What then? A systemic and pervasive misuse of memory, remember? Bohm handed us the answer:
“We don't really understand the nature of our thought process; we're not aware of how it works and how it's really disrupting, not only our society and our individual lives but also the way the brain and nervous system operate, making us unhealthy or perhaps even someway damaging the system.”
Now, that is something we can do something about. By “understanding the nature of our thought process,” Dave is not speaking about content, what we think about. He is looking at thought as a system, how it originates, associates, draws upon past memories, projects into the future, invents, rationalizes, justifies, defends, and sadly, our near-complete identification with this process. “Rational, orderly, factual thought, such as in proper doing science,” is indeed valuable, but that is not the norm, far from it. Self and mass delusions abound and are getting bigger. Just look.
And yet, this practice, discipline, and persistent inquiry is the essential and missing capacity that brings the limitation and thought’s self-deceptions to order. Not a new insight, just ignored for centuries by the concealment Bohm described above.
This inquiry demands a quality of attention greater than the reflexive habits of mind most call thinking. We call it Mindfulness, and the discovery of what it feels like to have a mind not overflowing with conditioned mental images, crashing into each other like bingo balls. Expanded attention, grounded in this ‘other’ non-imaginative state, creates a missing reference or context to observe. Note; technology is a counterfeit form of thought, making this inquiry exponentially more difficult.
As was described by a learned Tibetan, with mindfulness as the base, a strict form of self-inquiry and self-debate is applied to challenge and negate all the mental images and feelings, in a word assumptions, one has about one’s self. Followed by the same negating insight into all the false images we hold about others, including race, nationalism, culture, everything, as if to wipe generations of dirt off our glasses and even removing the glasses themselves. Only then, free from imagined images and concepts, can we experience our authentic mind, what Darcia calls our “missing mind,’ with its essential needs, a state compared to the vast sky, free from pollution and clouds, exploding with full-spectrum intelligence. No longer limited by reflexive conditioning. And with this rainbow-intelligence we suddenly discover who and what we really are, as a direct experience, not another concept.
Darcia’s recent publication, “Restoring the Kindship Worldview, Indigenous Voices Introduce 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Planet Earth,” peals back civilizations’ toxic conditioning with its enforced false identities, to a time when nature, not machines, was humanity’s governing context. In her soon-to-be-released book, “The Evolved Nest, Nature’s Way of Raising Children and Creating Community,” with G. A. Bradshaw, with her expertise in ecology and psychology, Darcia drops the core vision even deeper to represent mammalian life as an integral force quality of our missing mind. After all, we were and are mammals before human. We shared all of life’s systems before we began to imagine that we did not. A very recent delusion indeed.
In the healing chapters of “The Myth of Normal,” Gabor describes a number of spontaneous remissions, along with researchers who studied hundreds, perhaps thousands. As with Joseph Chilton Pearce’s wife Patty, the common quality uniting these radical leaps back to wholeness is an insight that each was not who or what they had believed. A new identity was revealed that changed the worldview, and with that the body viewed. To have this revelation implies that each discovered, if even for a few moments, who and what they really are. That is all it takes to crack the Cosmic Egg. The time for this universal spontaneous remission is “now,” for each of us and upon that, our children. What are we waiting for? Let’s get going.
Michael, Solstice 2022
A Winter Solstice Prayer
Quietly I return
each winter when the moon is full
and the stars sparkle bright in the black sky.
I return to this silent place that has been
in my heart and soul of humanity – forever
when the heavens pause
in this stillness we all feel.
The ever-present cycle of birth, growth, and blossoming,
the wisdom of autumn and death of each heartbeat,
breath filling each cell, organ, limb, body, tree,
mountain, planet and galaxy dancing the dance
of transformation and renewal,
we are reminded of in this quiet place.
Strange how the ancients pictured this
timeless cycle of living-dying.
The Egyptian and Greek, the pre-medieval
mind whispered and carry forward stories
of this reverence that we feel.
The cross traversing the perfect circle,
dividing the heavens into four seasons,
of that, they made into a symbol of pain.
And of that ever-new, transcendent spirit,
that force that is born again and again
and again each moment,
of that, they cast as an image of ‘a’ man.
The metaphysical gifts of love,
of affection, good health, and wholeness, of that
they made into toy trains, gadgets, and silk ties.
But that transcendent spirit called Christ
pushing like a blade of grass through the concrete
of our conditioning remains in this quiet place.
Can you feel it?
The mystic sees what lies hidden from
the mind, enchanted, blinded by its concepts and symbols.
They see the eternal sea of light turning and churning
behind the stories we tell each other
on this winter’s eve.
May you stop as the heavens do each year
and stand in the mystery that casts this spell
as it has done forever and will forever.
May it touch you,
nay pierce you like
and in that stunned-timeless moment
see the miracle that you are
and will always be.
For that is the true meaning
of this winter’s tale.