Tag Archives: awakening

Structures vs The power within

Once upon a time I saw oppressive structures everywhere. I felt restricted, bullied and forced. By chance that feeling fit very well with my life as an alcoholic, which I lived back then. As an alcoholic it was always very convenient to have someone else to blame for my shortcomings and failures. I was angry and it was nice to know that it was someone else’s fault that I had no job, felt bad about myself or simply didn’t get things done. When I studied at university, I was a strong supporter of all theories that confirmed what I believed – that it was someone else’s fault.

Then came my awakening which made me stop drinking from one day to the next. The essence of that awakening was that everything begins within me. The ultimate power over my life lies in me and it is up to me to create that life. With that understanding I chose to remodel my life. I freed myself from alcohol abuse and began a journey of personal and spiritual development. I chose to heal and grow. Every single step on that path was taken with the conscious knowledge that I create my own life.

The past few months have not been comfortable for me. I have gone back to university and now I have once again been drowned in theories about the structures that oppress and bind us, but this time they feel like a lower vibration. Of course, I understand that there are actual oppressive structures, but it has also become clear to me that many, if not most, who embrace such theories ultimately do so to be angry, to have someone to blame or to be able to rest in their victim role. Even I started searching for ways that I am a victim and I managed so well that I soon understood how I was the most oppressed person in the room.

But there was something gigantic and for me very important missing – that which enables personal growth and recovery. Low feelings of oppression, anger and victimhood can certainly be channeled into action, but for many they mostly seem to be paralyzing. And let me clarify this and say that I do not see, for example, going to a demonstration or rally as an active action. In order to develop as a person or to heal, such seemingly active actions can on the contrary be very passive and even dulling, since they do not force us to question our roles or assumptions.

All this was very uncomfortable to me, because on the one hand I realize that there is a truth to this with structures, but on the other hand I know even stronger that all power in my life comes from within and this realization gives me the power to heal and grow.

Then came my third introduction to sociology in this lifetime and once again I had to wrestle Marx and the other guys. More specifically I became interested in the concepts of alienation and commodity fetishism. When we create something and put our heart into it, it can be felt that it has a soul. We have imbued it with our own energy and in many cases the process of making it has also developed us as human beings, even if it might only be technically. When the production moves into a factory, the process is fragmented and workers only perform a part of the whole, the soul is lost and the product is disconnected from those who created it. In short we become alienated from what we have produced. The item becomes a simple gadget without a soul, something outside of ourselves that has very little to do with us.

Then I found the sentence which released me from my discomfort. “The same dynamics characterize all sectors of […] society: people start to believe that social structures have their own life […]”. (Ritzer 2013, p. 231 – translated from Swedish) People create structures, but since we alienate ourselves from them we begin imagining that they are separate from us. When we want to change them we therefore approach them as something external to us. We attack them from the outside as something that needs to be solved or even fought.

Had we not been alienated from the social structures, we would have recognized them as reflections of our inner selves, which would have led us to seek the solution within ourselves. When we begin the process of reclaiming power over what we create, we soon see the truth that has been present throughout my journey – all power originates from within.

Once again humankinds less sympathetic traits shine through. We have the tendency to seek scapegoats outside ourselves. We want the problem to be somewhere else, with someone else or in something else. When we place blame we do so by pointing away from ourselves, but as the saying goes, three fingers are pointing back at us.

If you want to help others, start by helping yourself.
If you want to heal the world, heal yourself and you will heal everything around you.
If you want to destroy racism, begin by healing the racist within. When you do so, your whole appearance will shift so dramatically that you will plant love in the heart of others.

It all starts with you.
You are the Alpha and the Omega.
You are the universe expressing itself as a human.

When you change yourself, everything else changes.

Photo: Sam’s Organic Universe by Nicolas Raymond on Flickr

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Four steps to personal and spiritual growth

1. Awareness
2. Acceptance
3. Change
4. Thankfulness

This is a four-step model that I have developed for working with personal and spiritual growth. Personally, I feel that it is superior to other models I have found. I feel it is easy to make a more complex model with more steps, in the same way as it is easy to write a long meaningless text. For me the challenge is to find the core and express it as simply as possible. This model is particularly suitable for people who are intuitive and innovative.

Awareness

All deliberate change begins with us gaining awareness. Without awareness, one cannot begin to work with oneself. As long as you are not aware that you, as an example, have a problem, you can’t make an active choice in how to deal with it. Sometimes awareness comes as a rude awakening. Sometimes you need to work for it. However you achieve it, it is the first stage of any development.

Acceptance

When we become aware that something is in a certain way, we need to accept that it is so. Before we accept that something is a certain way, we can’t start working on it, since we are simultaneously living in denial. Accepting that something is a certain way does not mean we think it’s good or that we want it to be so. It’s only an observation that this is how it is right now.

Some may be tempted to believe that step 1 and 2 are the same thing. They are not. Many who awaken to awareness of past trauma or erroneous behaviours, refuse to accept it when confronted. They go from being aware to trying to repress and/or deny whatever it is. We can’t work on our development from that position, since we are still stuck.

Change

When we are aware and have accepted the situation we can start making changes that will lead us in the direction we want to go. My experience is that when I have managed to do steps 1 and 2, life conspires to show me the way forward. What I need to do is be open and attentive, to receive the tools and challenges that I get.

Some models try to break this step down into detailed points on how to do things. They make a method of it. I rather think that the method is forever changing. In working with personal and spiritual development we often need many different methods, adjusted methods, our own methods, hunches, collapses or divine inspiration. For me it is an intuitive process that requires that I am open to feel what is right for me at this moment.

Thankfulness

Many people that forget to be thankful soon forget what they have to be thankful for. So it is good to frequently express gratitude for what we have experienced, and especially the difficult moments. My experience is that I get to a point where all that is left is a memory, a lesson and a thankfulness for what has been. When I have made my way through the entire process, my focus has shifted from what has been lost to what I have found, from what was to what is. In the present and with an understanding of everything I have, I am always thankful.

If you find it difficult to be thankful I would recommend you to create a success board.

Photo: IMG_1760 by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr

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When Richard Alpert met his guru

– You know, I listened to a radio show where they talked about an old hippie who used LSD. He met a guru in India who asked to try it. The guru took a fairly high dose, but it had no effect on him. The hippie stopped using drugs and became his disciple instead. So you see, Daniel, psychedelics are just a shortcut. You shouldn’t use stuff like that.

Harvard professors Timothy Leary, left, and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), 1961. Photo courtesy
Harvard professors Timothy Leary, left, and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), 1961. Photo courtesy “Birth of a Psychedelic Culture”, 2011, Synergetic Press, Santa Fe

– You’re talking about Richard Alpert who was by no means any old hippie. Alpert was a professor at Harvard along with Timothy Leary and was a prominent figure who helped popularize LSD in the early 60’s. He was dismissed from Harvard at the same time as Timothy Leary, on the grounds that he had given his students psilocybin (magic mushrooms). Among many other things he was co-author of The Psychedelic Experience, which is a manual on the use of LSD in combination with The Tibetan Book of the Dead – that is, it’s a guide on how to use psychedelics to face your own death.

– The story of Alpert giving his guru LSD for the first time is well known, but the story of when he gives his guru LSD for the second time is less known, yet more entertaining and sheds more light on the matter. The doses (900-1200 micrograms) are extremely high and an average person would not be able to walk or even talk on such a dose. A high dose for therapeutic tripping could be as much as 600 micrograms, so this is still considerably more.

– The question is of course why the guru remains unaffected.

– Well, this isn’t just any side walk guru. Maharaj-ji was regarded as a saint. I once received the message from the spirit world that “psychedelics are not to be considered drugs. They are tools that allow you to speak with the gods.” And that’s exactly what the guru says in the second clip. Richard Alpert asks the guru if there is a use for these chemicals. The guru replies that there can be and that the use of psychedelics belongs to old forgotten wisdom that previously existed in yoga. He then says that it gives the opportunity to be in the presence of Christ, but that you can only stay there for a few hours. It is better to become Christ yourself, but two hours with a spiritual master strengthens faith, he continues.

– Maharaj-ji is of course unaffected because he is the Christ, or whatever name you want to use. He is constantly in what could be regarded as a psychedelic state and therefore the LSD makes no difference. For someone who is not there, it may, as the guru puts it, strengthen faith. I have met many people that thank psychedelics for waking them up to a divine reality and starting their spiritual journey, just as it was for both Richard Alpert and me.

– It is my understanding that the time that we spend feeling confused by the substance is not the spiritual journey. While on psychedelics we have contact with the highest divine and are overwhelmed by impressions and insights, but the real journey is to bring it all out into the real life and put it into practice. Then we begin a spiritual journey, in contrast to seeking spiritual thrills. To hang out with Christ is not the point, no matter if you do it with LSD, in a church or on your yoga mat. The point is to take what you’ve learned in that presence and use it in your everyday life.

– Richard Alpert stopped working with psychedelics, was given the name Ram Dass by his guru and chose a different path. Perhaps he would simply call it the next path, or even just the continuation of the same path? He has continued to speak highly of psychedelics and sees them as crucial to his own spiritual awakening, which you can see in the last clip with an older, stroke damaged Ram Dass.

– So what can we learn from this story? Is it that we should stay away from psychedelics? That they do not add anything that we can’t get by other means? That is not the lesson that I hear and it does not seem to be the lesson that Ram Dass is trying to convey. What I hear is that psychedelics are part of an ancient knowledge that can put us in touch with the highest divine. They are powerful tools to awaken the longing and desire within. If you work with psychedelics you might someday decide to leave the psychedelics behind, to continue the walk without them, but that does not mean that psychedelics were of no use. On the contrary, the psychedelics were the extremely powerful tool that brought you to that point.

Happy birthday, Ram Dass! (Yesterday that is)

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