The Mushroom Apocalypse and the Kabbalah

The mushroom apocalypse is best described by Lurianic Kabbalah. Here are the basic concepts taken directly from the Wikipedia entry (many thanks Wikipedia!)

“Primordial Tzimtzum – Contraction of Divinity

Isaac Luria propounded the doctrine of the Tzimtzum, (meaning alternatively: “Contraction/Concealment/Condensation/Concentration”), the primordial Self-Withdrawal of Divinity to “make space” for subsequent Creation.

Previous Kabbalah taught that before the creation of the spiritual or physical realms, the Ein Sof (“Without End”) Divine simplicity filled all reality. In a mystical form of Divine self-revelation, the Ohr Ein Sof (“Light of the Ein Sof/Infinite Light”) shone within the Ein Sof, before any creation. In the absolute Unity of the Ein Sof, “no thing” (no limitation/end) could exist, as all would be nullified. About the Ein Sof, nothing can be postulated, as it transcends all grasp/definition. Medieval Kabbalah held that at the beginning of Creation, from the Ein Sof emerged from concealment the 10 Sephirot Divine attributes to emmanate existence. The vitality first shone to Adam Kadmon (“Primordial Man”), the realm of Divine Will), named metaphorically in relation to Man who is rooted in the initial Divine plan. From Adam Kadmon emerged sequentially the descending Four spiritual RealmsAtziluth (“Emanation” – the level of Divine Wisdom), Beriah (“Creation” – Divine Intellect), Yetzirah (“Formation” – Divine Emotions), Assiah (“Action” – Divine Realisation). In Medieval Kabbalah the problem of finite creation emerging from the Infinite was partially resolved by innumerable, successive tzimtzumim concealments/contractions/veilings of the Divine abundance down through the Worlds, successively reducing it to appropriate intensities. At each stage, the absorbed flow created realms, transmitting residue to lower levels.

To Luria, this causal chain did not resolve the difficulty, as the infinite quality of the Ohr Ein Sof, even if subject to countless veilings/contractions would still prevent independent existence. He advanced an initial, radical primordial Tzimtzum leap before Creation, the self-withdrawal of Divinity. At the centre of the Ein Sof, the withdrawal formed a metaphorical (non-spatial) Khalal/Makom Ponui (“Vacuum/Empty Space”) in which Creation would take place. The vacuum was not totally empty, as a slight Reshima (“Impression”) of the prior Reality remained, similar to water that clings to an emptied vessel.

Into the vacuum then shone a new light, the Kav (“Ray/Line”), a “thin” diminished extension from the original Infinite Light, which became the fountainhead for all subsequent Creation. While still infinite, this new vitality was radically different from the original Infinite Light, as it was now potentially tailored to the limited perspective of Creation. As the Ein Sof perfection encompassed both infinitude and finitude, so the Infinite Light possessed concealed-latent finite qualities. The Tzimtum allowed infinite qualities to retire into the Ein Sof, and potentially finite qualities to emerge. As the Kav shone into the centre of the vacuum it encompassed ten “concentric” Iggulim (the conceptual scheme of “Circles”), forming the sephirot, allowing the Light to appear in their diversity.

Shevira – Shattering of the sephirot vessels

Main article: Tohu and Tikun

The first divine configuration within the vacuum comprises Adam Kadmon, the first pristine spiritual realm described in earlier Kabbalah. It is the manifestation of the specific divine will for subsequent creation, within the relative framework of creation. Its anthropomorphic name metaphorically indicates the paradox of creation (Adam – man) and manifestation (Kadmon – primordial divinity). Man is intended as the future embodiment in subsequent creation, not yet emerged, of the divine manifestations. The Kav forms the sephirot, still only latent, of Adam Kadmon in two stages: first as Iggulim (Circles), then encompassed as Yosher (Upright), the two schemes of arranging the sephirot. In Luria’s systematic explanation of terms found in classic Kabbalah:

  • Iggulim is the sephirot acting as ten independent “concentric” principles;
  • Yosher is a Partzuf (configuration) in which the sephirot act in harmony with each other in the three-column scheme.

“Upright” is so called by way of an analogy to the soul and body of man. In man the ten sephirotic powers of the soul act in harmony, reflected in the different limbs of the body, each with a particular function. Luria explained that it is the Yosher configuration of the sephirot that is referred to by Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them”. However, in Adam Kadmon, both configurations of the sephirot remain only in potential. Adam Kadmon is pure divine light, with no vessels, bounded by its future potential will to create vessels, and by the limiting effect of the Reshima.

From the non-corporeal figurative configuration of Adam Kadmon emanate five lights: metaphorically from the “eyes”, “ears”, “nose”, “mouth” and “forehead”. These interact with each other to create three particular spiritual world-stages after Adam Kadmon: Akudim (“Bound” – stable chaos), Nekudim (“Points” – unstable chaos), and Berudim (“Connected” – beginning of rectification). Each realm is a sequential stage in the first emergence of the sephirotic vessels, prior to the world of Atziluth (Emanation), the first of the comprehensive four spiritual worlds of creation described in previous Kabbalah. As the sephirot emerged within vessels, they acted as ten independent Iggulim forces, without inter-relationship. Chesed (Kindness) opposed Gevurah (Severity), and so with the subsequent emotions. This state, the world of Tohu (Chaos) precipitated a cosmic catastrophe in the Divine realm. Tohu is characterised by great divine Ohr (Light) in weak, immature, unharmonised vessels. As the divine light poured into the first intellectual sephirot, their vessels were close enough to their source to contain the abundance of vitality. However, as the overflow continued, the subsequent emotional sephirot shattered (Shevirat HaKeilim – “Shattering of the Vessels”) from Binah (Understanding) down to Yesod (the Foundation) under the intensity of the light. The final sephirah Malkhut (Kingship) remains partially intact as the exiled Shekhina (feminine divine immanence) in creation. This is the esoteric account in Genesis[11] and Chronicles[12] of the eight Kings of Edom who reigned before any king reigned in Israel. The shards of the broken vessels fell down from the realm of Tohu into the subsequent created order of Tikun (Rectification), splintering into innumerable fragments, each animated by exiled Nitzutzot (Sparks) of their original light. The more subtle divine sparks became assimilated in higher spiritual realms as their creative lifeforce. The coarser animated fragments fell down into our material realm, with lower fragments nurturing the Kelipot (Shells) in their realms of impurity.

Tikun – Rectification

Partzufim – Divine Personas

Main article: PartzufimThe sephirot in the scheme of Yosher (“Upright”), from which the partzufim develop

The subsequent comprehensive Four spiritual Worlds of Creation, described in previous Kabbalah, embody the Lurianic realm of Tikun (“Rectification”). Tikun is characterised by lower, less sublime lights than Tohu, but in strong, mature, harmonised vessels. Rectification is first initiated in Berudim, where the sephirot harmonise their 10 forces by each including the others as latent principles. However, supernal rectification is completed in Atziluth (World of “Emanation”) after the Shevira, through the sephirot transforming into Partzufim (Divine “Faces/Configurations”). In Zoharic Kabbalah the partzufim appear as particular supernal Divine aspects, expounded in the esoteric Idrot, but become systemised only in Lurianism. The 6 primary partzufim, which further divide into 12 secondary forms:

  • Atik Yomin (“Ancient of Days”) inner partzuf of Keter Delight
  • Arikh Anpin (“Long Visage”) outer partzuf of Keter Will
  • Abba (“Father”) partzuf of Chokhma Wisdom
  • Imma (“Mother”) partzuf of Binah Understanding
  • Zeir Anpin (“Short Visage” – Son) partzuf of emotional sephirot
  • Nukva (“Female” – Daughter) partzuf of Malkhut Kingship

The Parzufim are the sephirot acting in the scheme of Yosher, as in man. Rather than latently including other principles independently, the partzufim transform each sephirah into full anthropomorphic three-column configurations of 10 sephirot, each of which interacts and enclothes within the others. Through the parzufim, the weakness and lack of harmony that instigated shevirah is healed. Atziluth, the supreme realm of Divine manifestation and exclusive consciousness of Divine Unity, is eternally rectified by the partzufim; its root sparks from Tohu are fully redeemed. However, the lower three Worlds of Beri’ah (“Creation”), Yetzirah (“Formation”) and Assiah (“Action”) embody successive levels of self-consciousness independent of Divinity. Active Tikun rectification of lower Creation can only be achieved from Below, from within its limitations and perspective, rather than imposed from Above. Messianic redemption and transformation of Creation is performed by Man in the lowest realm, where impurity predominates.

This proceeding was absolutely necessary. Had God in the beginning created the partzufim instead of the Sefirot, there would have been no evil in the world, and consequently no reward and punishment; for the source of evil is in the broken Sefirot or vessels (Shvirat Keilim), while the light of the Ein Sof produces only that which is good. These five figures are found in each of the Four Worlds; namely, in the world of Emanation (atzilut), Creation (beri’ah), Formation (yetzirah), and in that of Action (asiyah), which represents the material world.

Birur – Clarification by Man

The soul of Adam included all future human souls, while the 613 Mitzvot relate to 613 spiritual “limbs” in the configuration of the soul

The task of rectifying the sparks of holiness that were exiled in the self-aware lower spiritual Worlds was given to Biblical Adam in the Garden of Eden. In the Lurianic account, Adam and Hava (Eve) before the sin of Tree of Knowledge did not reside in the physical World Assiah (“Action”), at the present level of Malkhut (lowest sephirah “Kingship”). Instead, the Garden was the non-physical realm of Yetzirah (“Formation”), and at the higher sephirah of Tiferet (“Beauty”).[13]

Gilgul – Reincarnation and the soul

Main article: Gilgul

Luria’s psychological system, upon which is based his devotional and meditational Kabbalah, is closely connected with his metaphysical doctrines. From the five partzufim, he says, emanated five souls, Nefesh (“Spirit”), Ru’ach (“Wind”), Neshamah (“Soul”), Chayah (“Life”), and Yechidah (“Singular”); the first of these being the lowest, and the last the highest. (Source: Etz Chayim). Man’s soul is the connecting link between the infinite and the finite, and as such is of a manifold character. All the souls destined for the human race were created together with the various organs of Adam. As there are superior and inferior organs, so there are superior and inferior souls, according to the organs with which they are respectively coupled. Thus there are souls of the brain, souls of the eye, souls of the hand, etc. Each human soul is a spark (nitzotz) from Adam. The first sin of the first man caused confusion among the various classes of souls: the superior intermingled with the inferior; good with evil; so that even the purest soul received an admixture of evil, or, as Luria calls it, of the element of the “shells” (Kelipoth). In consequence of the confusion, the former are not wholly deprived of the original good, and the latter are not altogether free from sin. This state of confusion, which gives a continual impulse toward evil, will cease with the arrival of the Messiah, who will establish the moral system of the world upon a new basis.

Until the arrival of the Messiah, man’s soul, because of its deficiencies, can not return to its source, and has to wander not only through the bodies of men and of animals, but sometimes even through inanimate things such as wood, rivers, and stones. To this doctrine of gilgulim (reincarnation of souls) Luria added the theory of the impregnation (ibbur) of souls; that is to say, if a purified soul has neglected some religious duties on earth, it must return to the earthly life, and, attaching itself to the soul of a living man, and unite with it in order to make good such neglect.

Further, the departed soul of a man freed from sin appears again on earth to support a weak soul which feels unequal to its task. However, this union, which may extend to two souls at one time, can only take place between souls of homogeneous character; that is, between those which are sparks of the same Adamite organ. The dispersion of Israel has for its purpose the salvation of men’s souls; as the purified souls of Israelites will fulfill the prophecy of becoming “A lamplight unto the nations,” influencing the souls of men of other races to do good. According to Luria, there exist signs by which one may learn the nature of a man’s soul: to which degree and class it belongs; the relation existing between it and the superior world; the wanderings it has already accomplished; the means by which it can contribute to the establishment of the new moral system of the world; and to which soul it should be united in order to become purified.”

There are many similarities between certain specific elements of this overall description and my experiences of psychedelic apocalypse, the most dramatic being, 1. the infinite light of the Ohr Ein Sof; 2. identification with the Adam Kadmon; 3. the stages of stable and unstable chaos (Akudi and Nekudim), followed by the beginnings of rectification (Berudim); 4. the un-veiling and re-veiling, un-vealing and re-vealing of the divine light; 5. the shattering of unity and sense; 5. the oscillations between the opposites; 6. the unfolding of insight and understanding (perception/gnosis and dalliance/pistis); 7. the descent from the intellect to the emotions; 8. the actions and interactions of the six primary Partzufim, experienced as archetypal figures and 9. the call to an ethical mission in the world.

There are also intriguing parallels with my own conceptual system, such as the distinction between the Iggulim (concentric) and the Yosher (upright) models. In my system the two principal elements are the “Ray of Creation” (my version of the Seder Hishtalshelut), which can be visualised as seven concentric circles, and the “Armour of Light”, which is like a simplified version of the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life. The six archetypes correspond to the ten Sephirot as follows:

Keter – Mystic

Hokhmah – King

Binah – Philosopher

Chesed & Hod – Monk

Gevurah & Netzah – Warrior

Tif’eret & Yesod – Shaman

Malkhut – no archetype

I have only recently discovered the extraordinary wisdom and knowledge contained in the Kabbalah, and am painfully aware of the depths of my ignorance. So far, however, the convergence of many of its formulations with my own mystico-psychedelic experiences and reflections is extraordinary, bordering on the spooky. It may be that I’ve simply reinvented the wheel, but if so, I’ve had great fun doing it!

Pray Without Ceasing

How it works is a mystery, but what is beyond dispute is that there is both upward causation and downward causation. Alter the structure of your brain by ingesting a psychoactive compound such as psilocybin and your consciousness changes. Alter the state of your consciousness by thinking certain thoughts and the structure of your brain changes.

The brain is like an instrument and the mind is like music. The kind of music you can play is constrained by the physical limitations of the instrument. However, unlike a physical instrument made of wood or brass, the brain is malleable and plastic. It is constantly morphing into different neural configurations. This means that the “music” you play on it actually changes the “instrument” it is played on. This is downward causation, or “mind over matter”.

The most direct and powerful types of upward causation (excepting brain disease and injury) are effected by psychedelics. The most powerful types of downward causation are produced by meditation and prayer. Put a Tibetan monk in a brain scanner and you will see extraordinary changes in the activity and structure of his brain as he enters into higher stages of meditation.

Psychedelics cause temporary changes in human brain structure and consciousness, ranging from a few minutes to twelve hours or more. A magic mushroom trip (psilocybin) lasts around six hours, but peaks at around two hours. Meditation and prayer also cause temporary changes in human consciousness and brain structure. With continued and repeated practice, however, these temporary states can become established in mind and brain as permanent traits.

This is why St. Paul exhorts his followers to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). But what is prayer exactly? The simplest and most straightforward definition of prayer is the turning of the mind towards God, captured in the Greek word metanoia, which is often translated as “repentance”, but which literally means something like “a turning about in the seat of consciousness”. A nice image to illustrate this turning about is the sunflower’s heliotropic movement to face the sun.

How can we do this? Most simply and straightforwardly, by remembering God. But what or who is God? Maybe we don’t believe in God. Either way, do we really know what it is we do or don’t believe in? Does it even matter? At the minimum, the word “God” refers to some kind of unity. Neo-Platonists would point to “the One”. SBNR (spiritual but not religious) people usually plump for something like “Nature” or “the Universe”. The Jewish Shema Prayer has set down for all time the fundamental declaration of the radical unity at the heart of monotheism: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

To remember God is to bring this “One” to mind. We can do this by simply repeating the word “God” or “Lord” or even “the One” as a mantra. If we are drawn to the Indian tradition, we can repeat the mantras “AUM” or “RAM”. By this simple movement of the mind away from the multiplicity of world and ego and towards the unity of God, we find stillness and a kind of unified consciousness of the mind.

This metanoia or turning to God in all simplicity is beautifully illustrated in “the practice of the presence of God” of the lay Carmelite monk Brother Lawrence. It is such an easy practice, it is easily overlooked by our proud egos, which prefer something clever and difficult to do. Brother Lawrence was uneducated and illiterate and worked in the kitchen. But he had deep understanding and he had deep faith. It is precisely because this practice of the presence of God is so easy, that it is so hard. It requires too much faith for people of little faith like us.

We can make the unity of God more intellectually satisfying, and perhaps easier for our clever egos to swallow, by noticing that there are actually three principles involved. The apparent unity is actually a trinity. This is expressed in the Christian tradition as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but it also appears in other traditions as Sat, Chit, Ananda or Parashiva, Shiva, Shakti. (Notice also that AUM is composed of three sounds). This “Three-in-One” allows for a dynamic interaction between the transcendent, immanent and incarnate principles of reality, connecting Being and Becoming, the One and the Many, Heaven and Earth.

We can break this down further into seven principles, Amun, Ra, Atum, Ka, Ba, Gaia, Jah, which I won’t go into here (chapter fourteen of my book The Confessions of a Psychedelic Christian, “The Presence of God”, explains how the Seven are contained in the Three and the Three in the One). This may sound terribly esoteric but it is actually quite straightforward. The basic point I am trying to put across here is that by recourse to the One, the Three and the Seven, it is in fact possible to pray without ceasing, and in so doing, to conform ourselves to the body and mind of Christ.

AUM

PARASHIVA SHIVA SHAKTI

AMUN RA ATUM KA BA GAIA JAH

*

AUM

PATRIS FILII SPIRITUS SANCTI

MYSTIC SHAMAN WARRIOR MONK PHILOSOPHER KING FRIEND

*

AUM

SAT CHIT ANANDA

PEACE LOVE GOODNESS BEAUTY TRUTH CONSCIOUSNESS BLISS

Narcissism

Narcissism is basically excessive self-love. It manifests itself in abusive and fawning, selfish and manipulative, behaviours. Narcissists are secretly or openly vain and greedy, conceited and self-obsessed. They seek status and adoration, even special status and special adoration. A narcissist believes that he is a Very Important Person and wants to be recognised as such, by his partner, friends and family, and by the world at large.

Everybody is a bit of a narcissist, a bit of a Diva. And everyone is also a bit of a Muggle, Muppet, Victim, Addict and Demon. It’s only when one of these fine fellows blows up out of all proportion that we recognise it as a “problem”. Then we can use our DSM to diagnose the appropriate personality disorder: narcissistic (Divas); borderline (Muppets); obsessive-compulsive (Muggles and Addicts); dependent (Victims) and sadistic (Demons). See Personality Disorders (chapter 8 of part 2 of my book, The Confessions of a Psychedelic Christian).

Post-Freudian received wisdom has it that the basic problem at the root of all our mental dis-ease is “repression”. Freud gives a cultural-historical account of this problem in his bestseller Civilization and Its Discontents, whose title speaks for itself (basically we are unhappy because in order to be civilized we have had to repress our natural narcissistic impulses to get along).

The solution and cure, as it has been taken up in popular culture and popular consciousness is simple: “express yourself!”. Watch pretty much any pop music video and you will see this message coming through loud and clear, often accompanied by an impressive amount of posing and prancing about. Now, with the advent of social media, not just pop stars, but anyone and everyone can pose and prance to their heart’s content.

The Mary Whitehouses of this world look on in horror. “Repress yourself!” they scream. And so it goes. Muggles think Divas are terrible show-offs and Divas think Muggles are terrible bores. The real difference is that Divas are open narcissists busily expressing themselves, whereas Muggles are secret narcissists busily repressing themselves.

Freud was famously critical of religion, which he sneeringly dismisses as a superstitious relic of pre-scientific ignorance in his other massive bestseller, The Future of an Illusion. For him, as for Nietzsche, religion amounts to little more than the worship of repression. It is fundamentally anti-life, anti-freedom, anti-sex, anti-self-expression, anti-will-to-power. Religious people are basically pale, emaciated, pathetic killjoys.

Modern people, liberated from the shackles of religion, are free to be themselves and to express themselves however they like. They can wear whatever clothes they like, listen to whatever music they like, have sex with whomever they like, snort whatever they like. As long as they don’t break the law (or get caught) nobody can tell them what to do. Not even their mum. Why? Because there is no God, so no one has authority to judge them in his name. Whoever judges them does it from their own subjective, relative, repressed and unenlightened point of view.

As long as God is seen as a tyrannical, repressive father, as William Blake’s Nobodaddy, I feel completely justified in rebelling against him. Like Lucifer, I want our own light to shine. I want to shine like the stars. I want to break free. God knows, I want to break free.

The choice is clear: express yourself or repress yourself. Be someone or be a nobody. Being a nobody obviously sucks and religion is obviously all about being humble and being a nobody, so away with religion! If you think I’m joking, just look at what it says in the Bible. You can’t get clearer than this, for example:

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24

But then again, what if there is a third possibility? What if “deny thyself” does not just mean “repress thyself”? Jesus is certainly a model of self-denial. He certainly took up his cross. But what does that even mean? What does the crucifix mean? That bizarre and uncomfortable image of a dying man hanging on a cross? How is that something to emulate? How can we follow that? Is it really just the sick worship of an anti-life masochistic death instinct?

The secret meaning of the crucifix struck me like a ray of sudden sunlight while sitting quietly in a side chapel of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. In fact the sun did suddenly strike the crucifix on the altar, lighting up the rays of the halo behind Christ’s head. His head was bowed, almost as if he were moving it out of the way of the resplendent golden halo behind it, which, catching the light of the sun through the window, itself shone like the sun.

Because he emptied himself of self (kenosis) Jesus made room for something else. Something else shone through him. Call it the Holy Spirit or God or the Son of God, he got out of the way. He got his head out of the way and he got his ego out of the way. And he shone with the universal light of the sun beyond the light of any individual candle.

Saint Paul also saw the light, “the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9) and understood that he was not that light, and that the more he denied himself, the more it shone through him:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

Galatians 2:20

There are other religions apart from Christianity, of course. There are the three main Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and the three main Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism). But they all teach self-denial and self-transcendence. The promise is that there is a way beyond both expression and repression where life flows through us, without any narcissistic attempt to claim it or hold onto it for ourselves. The same is true for the psychedelic experience. You must get out of the way and “make room for the mushrooms”.

This is the true religious instinct. Instead of being full of ourselves, we become a channel or instrument of peace, beyond the stress and strain of narcissistic self-concern, as Saint Francis of Assisi beautifully puts it in his famous prayer:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.”

Apocalypse

The Greek word apokálypsis doesn’t mean “the end of the world”; it means “the unveiling”. The Latin translation is revelatio, where velum means “veil”: to re-veal something is to un-veil it. The last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, is an unveiling, an apocalypse.

The psychedelic apocalypse is the unveiling of heaven and earth. This is the meaning of Noah’s nakedness:

“And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.”

Genesis 9:21

But his sons Shem and Japheth covered him up again. Why? Not out of prudishness, but because, as T.S. Eliot put it, “humankind cannot bear very much reality”. Humankind cannot live unveiled, apocalyptically. We need the veil. We need the blue pill.

But which veil? Do we need to cover our heads at all times? Do we need to grow beards? Do we need to follow a complex velum (from Proto-Indo-European weg, “to weave a web”) and clothe ourselves from head to foot with laws and customs? Laws and customs enshrined in our holy Torah for example? Do we need “Tradition”? But which tradition?

What is the best kind of veil? A black, completely opaque veil shows nothing at all of that which it covers. A completely transparent one shows everything, and is no veil at all. The best veil is semi-transparent; it both hides and reveals:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part but then shall I know even as I am known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

To see “face to face” is to see the apocalyptic vision, as was revealed to Arjuna by Krishna:

“In your own body, Lord, I see the gods

And hosts of creatures, every kind of thing:

The Lord Brahma upon his lotus seat,

The seers of old and serpents of the skies.

I see you, Lord, so infinite in form;

On every side I see your myriad arms,

Your bellies, mouths and eyes; there is no end,

No place where you begin, nor one between.

O Lord of every form, O Lord Supreme,

Adorned with crowns, with club and discus armed,

A radiant mass of universal light,

Of blazing fire and bright effulgent Suns,

My eyes can barely see your boundless might.

O Lord Supreme, O Lord, immutable,

You who alone are worthy to be known,

Safe refuge of the world, and guardian Prince

Of that eternal Law that governs all,

You are, I deem, the ancient Soul of Man.

As I behold you, infinite in power,

Alpha and Omega of all that is,

With Sun and Moon for eyes and mighty arms

Commanding every side, I see your face

Blazing with purest fire, warming the world

With your benevolence. From heaven to earth

You fill each mote of air and part of space.”

Bhagavad Gita, chapter 11

In the psychedelic apocalypse, the Vision of the Universal Form is un-veiled and then re-veiled. Sometimes you can almost physically see the veil descending once again as the vision fades. But the thickness of the veil determines the thickness of the cloud of forgetting. A tissue-thin veil can easily be pulled aside, prompting another remembering and another apocalypse. A heavy dark cloth can cover the blinding effulgence and unbearable beams of love for countless aeons.

What is your veil? What is your religion? When was your last apocalypse? When will your next be?

“Veiling and Unveiling, Remembering and Forgetting;

Breath of God, Spirit of Life.”

The revelation of Jesus Christ was an apocalypse. What then is the post-apocalyptic veil that covers up this unveiling? Not the thick veil of the law, but the thin veil of faith:

“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God”

Galatians 2: 19-20

“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3: 23-26

The veil that Christianity proposes is the minimal veil possible for humankind: the veil of faith.

The Way, the Truth and the Life

The only freedom from the games within games and identities within identities that is eXistenZ is base reality: the Pure Land in the mind of Buddha or the kingdom of God in the mind of Christ. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Christ is the way out of virtual reality, the World Saviour.

“I am the way, the truth and the life.”

John 14:6

The Pilgrimage


The Celts

The crisp light of early morn

Was the dawning of hope and pride,

When aloft by youthful vigour borne

I mounted my colt astride.

Shield and buckler strapped I tight,

And provisions for the journey fastened;

So with one glance at the face of my lady bright

Upon my shield emblazoned,

I took the reins and westward hastened.

*

Aldebaran

Along the way, I know not how,

My horse’s hooves struck air not ground,

And soon the Pleiades and Plough

Appeared with shimmering sound;

And stars like diamonds all around,

Shining a path of ghostly sheen,

Drew us on like a mote of dust

Caught in a silver beam;

And naught could I do but trust.

*

I Want Tomorrow

In the castle gardens’ shade

She sings a plaintive song

Of longings that ne’er do fade:

“May the morrow may not tarry long,

For endless days drag on forever

‘Til her love arrive

Her heart’s bonds to sever;

And ere she die,

Her soul to kiss alive.”

*

The March of the Celts

Down to Earth we journey on,

I and my bewildered steed.

The way is hard, the light is gone,

But still my heart doth lead,

Across the moor, across the sea,

To the beat of an ancient drum,

The beat of the heart of life;

And round about the insects hum

To the sound of a distant fife.

*

Deireadh an Tuath

Mists of the damp earth rise

Wreathing ghostly forms,

Spirits long dead but wise,

Free from life’s cruel storms.

Rather than curse, they bless,

And denuded of worldly care,

With gentleness they caress

Those who close enough dare

Stop and stare.

*

The Sun in the Stream

The parting clouds reveal

A fulsome light,

Hyperion’s golden wheel,

Welcome to my sight

After such auguries of night.

The sun in the stream

Gladdens the heart

And sweetens the dream

Of which it is part.

*

To go Beyond (I)

And from across a sea

Of swirling dreams

The lilting melody

(Or so it seems)

Of a beautiful maiden

Lightens the load

With which I am laden

And paves the road

To her fair abode.

*

Fairytale

Out of the music box

Of childhood, an old tune,

Like a lullaby, rocks

To sleep the drowsy moon.

But all too soon

The years steal upon us,

Filling innocent minds

With thoughts that wrong us:

Thoughts unkind

Forge ties that bind.

*

Epona

Up ahead the horse goddess,

Riding on the winds of the north,

Comes down for a rest,

And spying us, sets forth

To set us this test:

“Whether it be best

To wed an immortal soul in death

Or a mortal soul in life?”

Ere I can take a breath,

My horse replies, “vielleicht”,

And takes the goddess to wife.

*

St. Patrick

So now on foot went I,

With shield, buckler and spear,

‘Til I came, by and by,

Upon a chapel drear,

All bereft of charm or cheer.

But entering in, a choir

Of heavenly angels did sing,

Which, like a moving fire,

To my tired soul gave wing.

*

Cú Chulainn

Thus refreshed, I marched on

Through the driving rain;

All fear was gone –

I was the hero Cú Chulainn.

No bandits or robbers could assail

A warrior so brave;

They surely must all fail,

As with a double-edged wave

I’d send them to an early grave.

*

Oisin

Through rain and fog

I fought, nail and tooth,

And came at last to Tir na n Og,

The land of perpetual youth.

Three hundred years in truth

Were but three days there,

And when I returned again

(With a sprightly young mare)

I had stayed ten.

*

Portrait (Out of the Blue)

The picture on my shield,

As though washed away with tears,

Was faded and peeled –

It had been a thousand years!

Could it be that my lady was dead?

Could it be true?

But another portrait appeared in its stead,

Of even more beautiful hue,

Out of the blue.

*

Boadicea

But where were the forest vales?

Into the distance stretched miles of sand,

Like in the Arabian tales;

The green fields were a narrow band,

Everywhere else desolate and wasteland.

I rode across the desert plain,

The like I had never seen,

And imagined what grief and pain

Must have befallen Boadicea queen.

*

Bard dance

From the bitter tears that fell

Upon the parchèd ground

There formed a bardic spell

That spread for miles around.

The grass sprang up lush and lean,

The strong trees pushed up hard,

And all decked in green

And spangle-starred,

Danced the magical bard.

*

Dan y Dŵr

By the shore

I found me a boat

Fast moored,

And setting it afloat,

Cast off across the moat.

Beneath the waters

That I troubled,

The memories of sons and daughters

Bubbled.

*

To go Beyond (II)

Down wafted the maiden’s song

From the castle on high.

The journey was long

And the years had slipped by;

Though it may wink, time never lies.

I climbed the grassy knoll

With flowers in my arms;

I heard a bell toll,

There, where she sleeps, safe from harm.

Absolute Faith

As Paul Tillich makes clear in The Courage to Be, we all suffer from the existential anxiety of guilt and condemnation, doubt and meaninglessness, fate and death.

Relax.

Be not afraid.

Go with the flow

And walk with God.

On Trust in the Heart

The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;

Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear.

Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart;

If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.

The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease;

While the deep meaning is misunderstood, it is useless to meditate on Rest.

It is blank and featureless as space; it has no ‘too little’ or ‘too much’;

Only because we take and reject does it seem to us not to be so.

Do not chase after Entanglements as though they were real things,

Do not try to drive pain away by pretending that it is not real;

Pain, if you seek serenity in Oneness, will vanish of its own accord.

Stop all movement in order to get rest, and rest will itself be restless;

Linger over either extreme, and Oneness is forever lost.

Those who cannot attain to Oneness in either case will fail:

To banish Reality is to sink deeper into the Real;

Allegiance to the Void implies denial of voidness.

The more you talk about It, the more you think about It, the further from It you go;

Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing you will not understand.

Return to the Root and you will find the Meaning;

Pursue the Light, and you will lose its source,

Look inward, and in a flash you will conquer the Apparent and the Void.

For the whirligigs of Apparent and Void all come from mistaken views.

There is no need to seek Truth; only stop having views.

Do not accept either position, examine it or pursue it;

At the least thought of ‘Is’ and ‘Isn’t’ there is chaos and the Mind is lost.

Though the two exist because of the One, do not cling to the One;

Only when no thought arises are the Dharmas without blame.

No blame, no Dharmas; no arising, no thought.

The doer vanishes along with the deed,

The deed disappears when the doer is annihilated.

The deed has no function apart from the doer;

The doer has no function apart from the deed.

The ultimate Truth about both Extremes is that they are One Void.

In that One Void the two are not distinguished;

Each contains complete within itself the Ten Thousand Forms.

Only if we boggle over fine and coarse are we tempted to take sides.

In its essence the Great Way is all-embracing;

It is as wrong to call it easy as to call it hard.

Partial views are irresolute and insecure,

Now at a gallop, now lagging in the rear.

Clinging to this or that beyond measure

The heart trusts to bypaths that lead it astray.

Let things take their own course; know that the Essence

Will neither go or stay;

Let your nature blend with the Way and wander in it free from care.

Thoughts that are fettered turn from the Truth,

Sink into the unwise habit of ‘not liking’.

‘Not liking’ brings weariness of spirit; estrangements serve no purpose.

If you want to follow the doctrine of the One, do not rage against the World of the Senses.

Only by accepting the World of the Senses can you share in the True Perception.

Those who know most, do least; folly ties its own bonds.

In the Dharma there are no separate dharmas, only the foolish cleave

To their own preferences and attachments.

To use Thought to devise thoughts, what more misguided than this?

Ignorance creates Rest and Unrest; Wisdom neither loves nor hates.

All that belongs to the two Extremes is inference falsely drawn –

A dream-phantom, a flower in the air. Why strive to grasp it in the hand?

‘Is’ and ‘Isn’t’, gain and loss banish once for all:

If the eyes do not close in sleep there can be no evil dreams;

If the mind makes no distinctions all Dharmas become one.

Let the One with its mystery blot out all memory of complications.

Let the thought of the Dharmas as All-One bring you to the So-in-itself.

Thus their origin is forgotten and nothing is left to make us pit one against the other.

Regard motion as though it were stationary, and what becomes of motion?

Treat the stationary as though it moved, and that disposes of the stationary.

Both these having thus been disposed of, what becomes of the One?

At the ultimate point, beyond which you can go no further,

You get to where there are no rules, no standards,

To where thought can accept Impartiality,

To where effect of action ceases,

Doubt is washed away, belief has no obstacle.

Nothing is left over, nothing remembered;

Space is bright, but self-illumined; no power of mind is exerted.

Nor indeed could mere thought bring us to such a place.

Nor could sense or feeling comprehend it.

It is the Truly-so, the Transcendent Sphere, where there is neither He nor I.

For swift converse with this sphere use the concept ‘Not Two’;

In the ‘Not Two’ are no separate things, yet all things are included.

The wise throughout the Ten Quarters have had access to this Primal Truth;

For it is not a thing with extension in Time or Space;

A moment and an aeon for it are one.

Whether we see it or fail to see it, it is manifest always and everywhere.

The very small is as the very large when boundaries are forgotten;

The very large is as the very small when its outlines are not seen.

Being is an aspect of Non-being; Non-being is an aspect of Being.

In climes of thought where it is not so the mind does ill to dwell.

The One is none other than the All, the All none other than the One.

Take your stand on this, and the rest will follow of its own accord;

To trust in the Heart is the Not Two, the Not Two is to trust in the Heart.

I have spoken, but in vain; for what can words tell

Of things that have no yesterday, tomorrow or today?

Seng-t’san