The Satyr and The Traveller, Walter Crane 1887. Image source: Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
Well for me, it’s Eastern body, Western mind, and the process of integrating those two..
My energetic and healing practices are heavily influenced by Taoist, Buddhist and Ayurvedic teachings, but my psychology is embedded within a Western Alchemic philosophy, and far from being discouraged by this seemingly conflicted state of affairs, I am absolutely thrilled by the dynamic opportunities for transformation that it represents.
When I understood far less about my path of self-transformation, I felt short-changed by what I perceived as a disparate and semi-irrelevant diffusion of clunky Western wisdom traditions, and leveled my intellectual misguidedness and emotional frustration at the forces of history, that I identified as having robbed me of the layperson’s ability to access my spiritual birthright. The truth is, that you cannot be robbed of something that has always been, and always will be present within you, any more than you could empty the sea with a bucket.
I don’t feel cheated anymore. In fact quite the opposite; the kind of masculine/ feminine dynamism offered by my chosen set of spiritual practices, leaves me more than well-enough equipped to face modern life with that balance of Kung-Fu calmness, yet primordial fearlessness, that it so readily requires to be lived well.
I could have easily found everything I needed for fulfillment of my spiritual path in Buddhism alone; with its stunning preservation of intact lineage transmission, superbly crafted inner-wisdom, continually refined and adapted over the course of millennia, but I feel an obligation to work through the firmly entrenched Alchemical contradictions that beckoned me from within the marrow of my very own soul, both for my own path, and for that of my community, be they local or global.
For as I progressed further on my path, I came to realise that no healing occurs alone. It happens within the full flow of life on the material plane, with greater ensoulment and refinement of our unique capacities. It happens within our triumphs, tragedies, social interactions and reactions. There’s no other way it can happen, for we are all mirror images of one another. To find your own faults, look no further than those which you perceive in others. To find your own virtues look no further than those which you perceive in others.
As the sublimely illustrative ancient Indian legend of Indra’s net shows us, we are all reflective beads of water sitting upon our intersection of a co-creative living work of interconnected art, pulled up from the fathomless sea of non-material consciousness.
From the gifts of wisdom I have acquired from the numerous Eastern traditions that I have explored, I am building my own unique sacred inner-architecture, within which to invite more of that elusive primordial bedrock of Western consciousness, that so desperately seeks to be integrated on its own terms. In doing so, I hope to light the way for as many others as possible.
As a Westerner, I discovered that I literally inhabit — for better or worse — the body of my beliefs, and those of my ancestors, and feel the need to take responsibility for those beliefs come hell or high-water. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, they have been vital voices in my transformation process, and even when their expression had me on the ropes, mere seconds from final countdown, there was enough Angelic presence and truth in them to lift me up, out of the abyss, put me firmly back on the ground, and send me out into this modern insanity for yet another round. Why those Angels waited only mere seconds from the end of the last round, only my inner-experience will tell. They can have a black sense of humour, it seems.
I have poured through numerous works on Alchemy, but a lot of them (at least the ones that I was stupid enough to attempt as a beginner) seemed to be intellectually mind-numbing to all but the most fanatical of seekers. Many of the more contemporary documentaries serve well enough for a straightforward approach, but alas, even someone such as my dearest mother, as maternally obligated to my causes as she is, can’t be expected to sit through a four and a half hour Terence McKenna lecture on Hermeticism, Gnosticism and Alchemy, no matter how loaded up on high-grade homegrown reefer and fudge brownies I can manage to get her. Although there is no harm in trying.
The cool thing about contemporary Alchemy is that its becoming more and more accessible in the same way that much of the modern Buddhist teachings have been. Most importantly it’s exoteric: out of the broom closet and rapidly shedding it’s centuries old baggage. The magic of the transformative experience is in no sense diminished by this, if anything, it emboldens it with greater clarity and verve. In an ever complexifying global society, this kind of open call to partake in the arts of the inner-alchemic experience, Western-style, no mystery school needed, is a blessing to humanity. One that I treasure, and will do my utmost best to interpret and share, with the level of authenticity and clarity that it demands.
The path can be hard enough as it is, so there is no point in making it any harder. This is illustrative of perhaps one of the single greatest lessons of the Taoist philosophy: which is that nature adores simplicity above all else, because it allows us the co-creative spaciousness to confront and move through whatever we may encounter on our path, without having the spiritual rug pulled out from under us by the often unforgiving tides of social, intellectual, ideological or political change.
As a Shaman, I dedicate my time and energy to doing whatever I can to distill and reconstitute more of the kind of primordial vitality and unity, that I believe Western Alchemical traditions have always possessed, both within themselves and syncretically with other traditions, both east and west, before they became so intellectually convoluted, egotised (as opposed to ergotised) fragmented and pitted against their own better judgments by the trials and ego-maniacal fallacies of history.
I therefore seek to practice my arts personally, no different than I would teach them to others, in a manner as useful to their own experience of everyday life as they can possibly be. This is a legacy of the numerous great Buddhist masters, whose teachings I have had the immeasurable good fortune to encounter in this life; and to them, I offer my eternal gratitude for their openness and syncretic tolerance.
I also consider myself as ever the student. For experience is the greatest teacher, and no-one can presume upon it, because it is the most profound co-creative work of all, and we all have a hand in it, without exception.
Blessings and warmest wishes to all. Thank you all kindly for reading.
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