On the eve of the election, I took a shamanic journey for an old friend. This vision centered on a salvage yard.
Our guide, Jonah, told us his hope in opening the salvage yard had been to use old cars for parts and scrap metal, helping to reduce waste on the planet while also making an income. But the salvage yard kept growing, he said, the scrap metal demand not keeping up at all with the inflow of cars. He could no longer expand his fence line to accommodate the newly-wrecked cars, but was having them crushed and sent away on the day of our visit. This moment represented the death of his dream of salvaging the past for future generations.
Then Jonah took us up to his office sitting atop the foundation of an oil drilling platform to see something: his mother’s house, surrounded by flowers, sitting all alone in the wasteland. In the midst of the wreckage of the old order, this man’s “mother” had begun planting seeds of new life.
Rudolf Steiner once asked: “What is God in maya [illusion]?” or, put differently, what does the freeing action of Life look like in this collective nightmare we call “reality”?
What has to be said now must sound rather paradoxical. God is not what we experience in the spring, in up-building forces, in shooting, sprouting things, in all beautiful and luminous things — God is real and active where we see destructive powers of nature; God is in autumn storms, in all shattering, disintegrating and crushing things. It sounds horrible and shocking, but it’s a fact: God is most active in all destructive and disintegrating things.
— Esoteric Lessons Part III: Berlin, 2-8-’13
In the context of the election, this is one hell of a prophetic message: there is no salvaging this wreck, there is no addressing the nightmare of our ecological crisis from the foundations that created it. The path before us is one of rolling up our sleeves and starting anew from the ground level. This is the path of our Mother, the Earth. Gaia in her wisdom welcomes the cleansing action of fire, volcano, flood, and then, with the slate wiped clean, begins nurturing life again anew.
The ascendancy of the choirs of chaos in the form of our new national leadership can be taken as a hopeful sign, though a foreboding one. In the age before us, in this chapter of the nightmare, the messengers of heaven are now arrayed in black, their piercing caws bearing tidings of destruction.
But perhaps most instructive to us in these times is the clue given in the guide’s name, Jonah. The Qur’an describes Jonah as one called to preach the message of God to his people, one who flees when faced with the overwhelming difficulty of his mission. Jonah runs in the direction of a ship preparing to depart on a long voyage, but out at sea, a severe storm engulfs and endangers the ship.
The men aboard draw lots to determine who is responsible for the storm, and Jonah is found to be the guilty party. Condemned to an almost-certain death, Jonah is thrown overboard into the open sea. A gigantic fish comes and swallows him, and Jonah remains in its belly repenting and glorifying God.
Eventually, the big fish spits Jonah out onto the shore, weakened and sick. After resting and recovering in the shade of a plant Allah caused to grow over him, Jonah then returns to his homeland and succeeds in his mission. Qur’an, chapter 37 (Ad-Saaffat), verses 139-148.
My friends, we now find ourselves in the belly of the whale.
You do not defeat the nightmare by declaring war on it, drawing more battle lines, or otherwise remaining obedient to the dis-membering logic of nightmare consciousness. The nightmare is strengthened by our efforts to defeat it, outsmart it, deny it, run away from it. The storm finds you. There is no safe seat. Therein lies our hope.
Not until we hit bottom, not until we find ourselves in the belly of the whale, not until we are in the inescapable confines of the tomb, do we get serious about connecting to the reality of Spirit in a world of matter, “repenting and glorifying God.” The suffering, the darkness, the stench of death—all hallmarks of the nightmare—this is the stuff of initiation.
To what do we awaken? To the reality of Spirit. This is the underlying logic of the nightmare. You awaken to the Oneness in a dream of brokenness through the near-death experience of initiation.
It is important to notice that the world of spirit is the place of individual, not collective, effort. The more you re-member Spirit, the more Spirit re-members you, pieces you back together from a life of dis-ease and brokenness into wholeness. Little by little, as you re-member the uniting, connecting, loving energy that is Heaven, you find that you are being woven together again, little by little, into a greater coherence, an encompassing holiness.
Like a noisy murder of crows, the nightmare is the messenger of Spirit. Its aim is to awaken the magic of remembrance in each of us. The more you re-member spirit in a world of matter, the more solidity you have in the realm of spirit. The more you weave the reality of spirit in and through your very tissue, sinew, and bone, the more you show up, become visible, to spirit. You become a “seer” in the unseen realms only insofar as you are “seen” in the unseen reality.
We are being initiated all the time. Life sees to it. The nightmare is ever before us. Life sees to that, too. The question is: Are we awakening from the nightmare?
From the perspective of the mind, awakening from the nightmare seems impossible, the odds of success ridiculously long, the sheer amount of suffering unbearable and irredeemable. Don’t take your thoughts on the matter too seriously; this is the stance of a colonized and uninitiated mind.
For years, I prayed to be thrown into the River of Life. But that’s not how it works.
The key to entering the River of Life, the key to experiencing our natural, indigenous, grounded connection to Spirit within ourselves and out there in the world is noticing it never left you. We awaken from the nightmare by learning to focus not on the nightmare, but on the unassuming presence of Spirit—supportive, quiet, and common, like the ground beneath our feet. Like the blood flowing through our veins.
Integrity is the basis of all life. Separate matter from spirit and you quite simply die. Literally. It’s impossible to separate the two. It’s a lie. No amount of breaking, smashing, dividing, and conquering can make it true. Spirit never leaves you any more than the ground does.
So long as the mind believes the lie, so long as we draw the lines of separation, so long as we forget to re-member, we find ourselves on the banks of the River of Life, living in hell, even as the mighty river flows through us— in fact, is us.
Integrity is the basis of all life; its opposite is disintegration, collapse. The point of this collective journey is growing in freedom, love, and helping others do the same. The point of this life is not amassing power, but helping others to become powerful. The point of this dream is not being right, or smart, or blameless, or good. The point is seeing how others are right, smart, blameless, and good. The point of incarnation is not being loved, but loving others as we wish to be loved. Does this sound familiar to anybody?
The point of the nightmare is to jar you into re-membering. You are not here to wave your arms, seek attention, and gain accolades so you can play at being the Center of an adoring, attentive Universe. Your work here is to adore and attend to all the other Centers of the Universe. In so doing, you eventually realize that you are indeed in the Center, shacked up with none other than the Creator.
You discover the Source of Life—paved over, smashed, filled with rocks—not by thinking about it, nor by searching for it wherever you believe it to dwell. You uncover the Source of Life, the sacred well, by being it.
When you align with wholeness, when you align with blessing—when you become whatever it is you have been seeking—you are planting the seeds of a new dream within the wasteland of the nightmare.
Somewhere along the course of life’s grand initiation experience, the souls flying out of the River of Life discovered that they had been entrusted with a pair of wings and became strong enough to use them.
We were all born with wings. This nightmare, this bloodbath called Life, can teach us to sing, can teach us to rise above, can teach us to fly, once we notice and gradually learn to embody the beauty and love everywhere present.
But the beauty is visible, palpable, and real only to those who dive headfirst into the nightmare and learn to love it without condition. As the Creator does. Then, miracles are possible. Then, we find our voices and our wings and we take flight.
It is time.