The Canticle of the Sun

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which you give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those who will find Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.


Saint Francis of Assisi

Hope, Love, Faith

At the centre of the Tibetan Wheel of Life are three animals, a cock, a snake and a pig, chasing each others tails, symbolising the “three poisons” of greed, hate and delusion. These three conditions can be understood psychologically as a pathological or “unskillful” response to the existential problems associated with time, that is, with the past, the present and the future.

Greed is directed to the future. We desire, we want, we crave something in the future that will satisfy our desire. Hate is directed to the past. We hate someone or something because of accumulated resentment and bitterness over past wrongs. Delusion is directed to the present. We misconstrue present reality because we fail to see it as it really is.

We can understand greed, hate and delusion are psychological coping mechanisms to deal with our existential anxieties about time future, past and present. In The Courage to Be, Paul Tillich explores three types of existential anxiety: the anxiety of fate and death, the anxiety of guilt and condemnation and the anxiety of doubt and meaninglessness. These can also be understood as relating to our existential orientation to future, past and present.

If we suffer from existential anxiety, we experience dread (existential anxiety of fate and death) in relation to the future, regret (existential anxiety of guilt and condemnation) in relation to the past and despair (existential anxiety of doubt and meaninglessness) in relation to the present. Psychologically speaking, this is a very uncomfortable place to be. So we choose greed over dread, hate over regret and delusion over despair. All this does, however, is demote our anxiety from the existential level to the pathological level, which, although more bearable, is less authentic.

There is a more excellent way: hope instead of pathological greed or existential dread; love instead of pathological hate or existential regret; faith instead of pathological delusion or existential despair. The greatest of these three is love (agape) because without compassion and forgiveness of sins, we remain slaves to a false self and cannot find the inner spiritual fount from which flow hope and faith.

Eden, Wonder, Innocence




oA learned and a happy ignorance

          Divided me

      From all the vanity,

From all the sloth, care, pain, and sorrow that advance

      The madness and the misery

Of men. No error, no distraction I

Saw soil the earth, or overcloud the sky.


   I knew not that there was a serpent’s sting,

          Whose poison shed

      On men, did overspread

The world; nor did I dream of such a thing

      As sin, in which mankind lay dead.

They all were brisk and living wights to me,

Yea, pure and full of immortality.


   Joy, pleasure, beauty, kindness, glory, love,

          Sleep, day, life, light,

      Peace, melody, my sight,

My ears and heart did fill and freely move.

      All that I saw did me delight.

The Universe was then a world of treasure,

To me an universal world of pleasure.


   Unwelcome penitence was then unknown,

          Vain costly toys,

      Swearing and roaring boys,

Shops, markets, taverns, coaches, were unshown;

      So all things were that drown’d my joys:

No thorns chok’d up my path, nor hid the face

Of bliss and beauty, nor eclips’d the place.


   Only what Adam in his first estate,

          Did I behold;

      Hard silver and dry gold

As yet lay under ground; my blessed fate

      Was more acquainted with the old

And innocent delights which he did see

In his original simplicity.


   Those things which first his Eden did adorn,

          My infancy

      Did crown. Simplicity

Was my protection when I first was born.

      Mine eyes those treasures first did see

Which God first made. The first effects of love

My first enjoyments upon earth did prove;


   And were so great, and so divine, so pure;o

          So fair and sweet,

      So true; when I did meet

Them here at first, they did my soul allure,

      And drew away my infant feet

Quite from the works of men; that I might see

The glorious wonders of the Deity.




How like an angel came I down!

How bright are all things here!

When first among his works I did appear

O how their glory me did crown!

The world resembled his eternity,

In which my soul did walk;

And ev’ry thing that I did see

Did with me talk.


The skies in their magnificence,

The lively, lovely air;

Oh how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair!

The stars did entertain my sense,

And all the works of God, so bright and pure,

So rich and great did seem,

As if they ever must endure

In my esteem.


A native health and innocence

Within my bones did grow,

And while my God did all his glories show,

I felt a vigour in my sense

That was all spirit. I within did flow

With seas of life, like wine;

I nothing in the world did know

But ’twas divine.


Harsh ragged objects were conceal’d,

Oppressions tears and cries,

Sins, griefs, complaints, dissensions, weeping eyes

Were hid, and only things reveal’d

Which heav’nly spirits, and the angels prize.

The state of innocence

And bliss, not trades and poverties,

Did fill my sense.


The streets were pav’d with golden stones,

The boys and girls were mine,

Oh how did all their lovely faces shine!

The sons of men were holy ones,

In joy and beauty they appear’d to me,

And every thing which here I found,

While like an angel I did see,

Adorn’d the ground.


Rich diamond and pearl and gold

In ev’ry place was seen;

Rare splendours, yellow, blue, red, white and green,

Mine eyes did everywhere behold.

Great wonders cloth’d with glory did appear,

Amazement was my bliss,

That and my wealth was ev’ry where:

No joy to this!


Curs’d and devis’d proprieties,

With envy, avarice

And fraud, those fiends that spoil even Paradise,

Flew from the splendour of mine eyes,

And so did hedges, ditches, limits, bounds,

I dream’d not aught of those,

But wander’d over all men’s grounds,

And found repose.


Proprieties themselves were mine,

And hedges ornaments;

Walls, boxes, coffers, and their rich contents

Did not divide my joys, but all combine.

Clothes, ribbons, jewels, laces, I esteem’d

My joys by others worn:

For me they all to wear them seem’d

When I was born.




But that which most I wonder at, which most

I did esteem my bliss, which most I boast,

And ever shall enjoy, is that within

I felt no stain, nor spot of sin.


No darkness then did overshade,

      But all within was pure and bright,

No guilt did crush, nor fear invade

      But all my soul was full of light.


A joyful sense and purity

      Is all I can remember;

   The very night to me was bright,

      ’Twas summer in December.


A serious meditation did employ

My soul within, which taken up with joy

Did seem no outward thing to note, but fly

All objects that do feed the eye.


While it those very objects did

      Admire, and prize, and praise, and love,

Which in their glory most are hid,

      Which presence only doth remove.


      Their constant daily presence I

Rejoicing at, did see;

      And that which takes them from the eye

Of others, offer’d them to me.


No inward inclination did I feel

To avarice or pride: my soul did kneel

In admiration all the day. No lust, nor strife,

Polluted then my infant life.


No fraud nor anger in me mov’d,

      No malice, jealousy, or spite;

All that I saw I truly lov’d.

      Contentment only and delight


      Were in my soul. O Heav’n! what bliss

Did I enjoy and feel!

      What powerful delight did this

Inspire! for this I daily kneel.


Whether it be that nature is so pure,

And custom only vicious; or that sure

God did by miracle the guilt remove,

And make my soul to feel his love


So early: or that ’twas one day,

      Wherein this happiness I found;

Whose strength and brightness so do ray,

      That still it seems me to surround;


What ere it is, it is a light

      So endless unto me

That I a world of true delight

      Did then and to this day do see.


That prospect was the gate of Heav’n, that day

The ancient light of Eden did convey

Into my soul: I was an Adam there

A little Adam in a sphere


Of joys! O there my ravish’d sense

      Was entertain’d in Paradise,

And had a sight of innocence

      Which was beyond all bound and price.


An antepast of Heaven sure!

      I on the earth did reign;

Within, without me, all was pure;

      I must become a child again.


Thomas Traherne



Dogen Zenji said that, “to forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things”.

This is the via negativa.

However, it is also true that, to commune with myriad things is to forget the self.

This is the via positiva.

The end result is the same: “your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.”

The via negativa is practised in “formless meditation” and dis-identification from all the various contents of the ego and discriminative mind (i.e. the left hemisphere).

The via positiva is practised in “form meditation” and communion with various objects of awareness and attention using the intuitive mind (i.e. the right hemisphere).

Both ways support each other. They are complementary, not contradictory.

If you are communing with Nature, you become immersed in your environment. The boundary between you and the world around you begins to soften. You may even reach the point of “no boundary” and feel completely at one with life. But this is only possible with an attitude of openness and non-judgmental acceptance. You are not trying to analyze, interrogate, categorize or understand Nature objectively or scientifically. You are simply there to commune with it.

The same is true of reading or listening to music. If you are straining to decode, deconstruct, critique or interpret a poem or sonata, you are setting yourself against it in the controlling mode of the left hemisphere. You are identified with your analytical mind and experience it through the filter of your ego.

On the other hand, if you read a poem with an attitude of lectio divina, and savour every word and phrase for its own sake, simply and trustfully, in good faith, you will find that the boundary between reader and read also begins to soften and dissolve. You find yourself communing with the text rather than merely studying it or analyzing it. You are reading with the right hemisphere. You are reading for pleasure.

To enjoy and appreciate art and Nature, we need to commune with art and Nature and we need to forget the controlling, thinking self. The same is true of religion and psychedelics. Religious experiences and psychedelic experiences are experiences of intimate and intense communion and ego dissolution.

So The Way of the Holy Mushroom is primarily a positive way of communion, although it necessarily also includes the negative way of dis-identification. We commune with the mushroom, commune with the mantra, commune with the music, commune with the silence, commune with friends, commune with Nature. And we let go of the ego.

Holy communion is communion that heals us and makes us whole. The word is made flesh, touched by and touching “the peace that passeth all understanding” and “the love that moves the sun and the other stars”. For we have the mind of Christ, and the body and the blood. Bone of my bone, marrow of my marrow, He is nearer to me than I am to my self.

The Pump and the Gyroscope

Zen is at the centre of spiritual practice.

Zen means “meditation” but also “enlightened awareness”.

It is both a practice and a state of mind, or rather no-mind, mu-shin.

It is nondual consciousness.

It is ONE.


The ONE becomes THREE with the birth of duality.

A exists in relation to A’ (not-A),

producing three terms: A, A’ and AA’.

In Kashmir Shaivism, we have Parashiva, Shiva and Shakti;

in the Christian Trinity, we have Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


The THREE becomes SEVEN in the same way.

A, B, C exist as A, B, C, AB, BC, AC and ABC.

This constitutes an octave, expressed in the Ray of Creation

as Emptiness, Energy, Matter, Life, Mind, Planetary and Universal Consciousness.


The TWELVE represents the solar calendar,

associated with the twelve signs of the zodiac,

the twelve tribes of Israel

and the twelve apostles of Jesus.


We can envisage the relationship between 1, 3, 7 and 12

as an expanding and contracting sphere

surrounded by three rotating wheels,

something like a pump and a gyroscope in one.


The central point of the sphere is ONE,

which expands to THREE and SEVEN

before contracting back to ONE again.


The three rotating wheels

represent the TWELVE month cycle

of the liturgical year of holy days and festivals,

the TWELVE books and the TWELVE playlists,

endlessly turning like three Tibetan prayer wheels

around a breathing universe.

A Sevenfold Trinity

Taking the famous Chinese T’ai Chi symbol as our model – a circle divided into a curved black fish with a white dot and a curved white fish with a black dot – we can imagine seven permutations of the trinity, Kenosis-Gnosis-Pistis.

Consider the original Chinese elements in the T’ai Chi. The white half represents yang (active) and the black half represents yin (passive). The circle itself represents tao (unmanifest). We can adapt this schema to the idea of consciousness and say that the white half represents the conscious, the black half represents the unconscious and the circle represents the subconscious/superconscious.

As with the Rubin Vase optical illusion, where you see either a vase or two faces, depending on where your focus is, we can take the white and black halves of the T’ai Chi symbol to represent figure (conscious) and ground (unconscious). The black dot in the white fish symbolises the vestige of awareness of the unconscious ground which persists in our awareness of the conscious figure and vice versa.

What happens when we apply this understanding to the trinity Kenosis-Gnosis-Pistis?

When gnosis (mystical experience) is foregrounded and conscious, kenosis (emptiness) is backgrounded and unconscious. When kenosis is foregrounded and conscious, gnosis is backgrounded and unconscious. This oscillation of emptiness and form occurs within the horizon of intelligibility, which means that it must be held in intelligent awareness, which is inferred from the fact of emptiness and form but is itself subconscious/superconscious. This is pistis (faith).

The same dynamic obtains when we pair gnosis with pistis and pistis with kenosis. This gives us six possible relationships in total:

  1. Conscious gnosis and unconscious kenosis held in superconscious pistis.
  2. Conscious kenosis and unconscious gnosis held in superconscious pistis.
  3. Conscious gnosis and unconscious pistis held in superconscious kenosis.
  4. Conscious pistis and unconscious gnosis held in superconscious kenosis.
  5. Conscious pistis and unconscious kenosis held in superconscious gnosis.
  6. Conscious kenosis and unconscious pistis held in superconscious gnosis.

And the seventh? The seventh is the eternal cycle of kenosis, gnosis and pistis in linear time.

Let Yourself be Colonised

Let yourself be colonised by the playlist.

Let yourself be colonised by the reading list.

Let yourself be colonised by the meditation.


Let yourself be colonised by the mushroom.

Let yourself be colonised by Jesus.

Let yourself be colonised by zen.


Let yourself be colonised by gnosis.

Let yourself be colonised by pistis.

Let yourself be colonised by kenosis.

The Holy is the Gateway Drug to Holiness

What do you do if you are committed Naturalist and believe that the world you live in is the product of a long process of Darwinian evolution by natural selection but feel strangely discontented with a strong “spiritual” impulse to be more connected to everything?

There are five options really: politics, therapy, prescription drugs, meditation and shamanism. Perhaps you are discontented because of the socioeconomic conditions of late capitalism and need to work towards reform or revolution. Perhaps you are discontented because of a chemical imbalance in your brain and need medical treatment. Perhaps you are discontented because of psychological blockages and traumas and need to uncover and heal them. Perhaps you are discontented because your mind is too busy and you need to find stillness and quiet to appreciate the present moment. Perhaps you are discontented because you have lost touch with your body and the natural world and need to “return to the native”.

If you are a Naturalist and feel the discontents of civilization keenly enough, you will inevitably set up a dichotomy between Culture and Nature, Delusion and Enlightenment. This is why scientifically-minded rational Westerners are drawn to Buddhism and Taoism, which offer a path of liberation from alienation and discontent (dukkha) within a Naturalist paradigm. It also explains why Westerners are drawn to shamanic traditions and to psychedelics, which promise to re-connect us to our True Nature.

Of the five options listed above, the first three are more “worldly” that the other two. Politics and psychotherapy generally move within the orbit of human culture (apart from the further reaches of Humanist-Transpersonal therapeutic modalities) and prescription drugs can’t do much more than alter your mood. You may feel better up to a point, less alienated and discontented, and enjoy “ordinary unhappiness” as Freud put it, but you won’t scratch the “spiritual” itch.

If you take meditation and shamanism seriously and practice assiduously, you will begin to get results. You will start to feel more connected, more natural and more yourself. If you persist, however, you will also start to feel something else, an ineffable and mysterious sense of “the holy”. In deep meditation, the experience of the moment is imbued with holiness. In shamanic immersion, everything begins to glow with other-worldly numinosity. The forest glade feels like a sacred place. The drumming and chanting sound like sacred music.

In the presence of the holy, you begin to have a deeply-felt, intimate sense of the holiness of all things. In those moments, you no longer feel alienated and discontented. You feel connected and whole. You feel reverence and awe. You begin to have recognizably “religious” feelings, even if intellectually you are still a committed Naturalist.

Many people stop here or pull back. The re-sacralization of the world has been adequately achieved and they can get on with their lives a little wiser and happier, with a deeper sense of the sacredness of life. Others press on to “the source of all holiness”. However, once God has put his foot in the door, religion inevitably comes flooding in. It becomes clear that the true aim of human life is holiness and that the most direct way to holiness is exposure to the holy, and that the greatest repository of the holy is religion.

After Religion

After religion and post the death of God,

human beings only have three options for a meaningful life.

The first is Epicurean-Darwinian:

“eat, drink and be merry (and reproduce) for tomorrow we die”.

This is minimal meaningfulness:

either outright, self-destructive hedonism or tempered, sensible hedonism.

(Epicurus was of course a sensible hedonist).

The other two are Nietzschean and Marxist:

either the will to power

or the will to unseat power.

The Nietzschean is also Darwinian, inspired by the idea of the survival of the fittest.

In the twentieth century it expressed itself politically

in Social Darwinism, Fascism and Nazism,

the corollary of the ideological elevation of the “fittest” therein

being the methodical, genocidal extermination of the “weakest”.

This is the outer manifestation, the “outer mysteries”.

The “inner mysteries” are represented by Carl Jung

and New Age personal development and potential movements.

The aim is to individuate as fully as possible as a self-actualised Superman,

or more modestly as fast-tracked Haute Bourgeois.

As with hedonism, there is an extreme version and a moderate version:

Cybernetic Transhumanism and Cultured Secular Humanism.

Both are inherently elitist.

Marxism also reads human history in terms of power,

but with a view to overturning existing power structures,

inspired by a utopian vision of universal equity (Communism).

The “outer mysteries” are revolutionary socialist politics,

which dominated (and oppressed) half the globe in the twentieth century.

The “inner mysteries” are represented by Sigmund Freud

and Woke social justice movements and identity politics.

Freudian psychoanalysis is all about equalising the psyche

by suppressing the Superego and expressing the Id.

Radical Feminism, Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory and Post-Colonial Theory

aim to equalise society by overturning collective Superegos:

the Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Heteronormativity and Eurocentrism.

The New Atheist movement similarly attempts to redeem society

by overthrowing the collective Superego known as Religion.

Thus the will to unseat power finds expression in various manifestations

of “Progressive Liberationism”.

After religion and post the death of God,

human beings really have only two things left to think about:

pleasure and power.

However, real human freedom and flourishing are, and always have been, found only in love.

And God is love.