On 2008

Browsing all posts on 2008

I don’t know anything. Nothing at all. Thank you.

I heard these words (title) from Manuel Rufino, an Ayahuasquero and Healer from Native American traditions during his talk given as part of the 2nd Annual Ayahuasca Monologues on April 17th.

April/May shaped-up to be pretty big for me and I had a sort of prescience for it (as described in past posts) – an anticipation that seemed to be building since the beginning of the year. The change of seasons has indeed brought with it many shifts – and many blessings.

Dana and I traveled to Encinitas/Carlsbad, CA to spend some time with our West Coast and senior yoga teacher, Tim Miller, during the first two weeks of April. My 42nd birthday was on April 21st. April 29th the great Dr. Albert Hofmann, ‘the father of LSD’, passed away at the age of 102. On May 2nd I installed a photography exhibit at The Shala. I lost a full time, on-site freelance contract on April 11th, but started another one on a work-from-home basis on May 9th. At some point during the last month, my yoga teacher, Barbara Verrochi, gave me the final pose (setu bandhasana) in the primary series of Ashtanga (the Mysore-style practice). Completing the primary series was something I thought I’d never do – at least in this lifetime. And lastly, I received some interest in my doing a bit of journalism – something I’ve always dreamed of pursuing.

I wonder if the shifts I seem to be undergoing are being experienced on a more universal level. No, I know they are. It’s hard NOT to see the synchronicities – and the drastic changes. Eckhart Tolle and Oprah completed their 10-week online series. Barack Obama appears poised to take the democratic nomination for the Presidential run in November. The housing/foreclosure crisis is further traumatizing the middle class – and calling into serious question the societal 'programming' (and lending practices) surrounding the so-called ‘American Dream’. Gasoline prices are so alarmingly high that the senate hearings with the oil tycoon CEOs regarding the astronomical oil company profits harkens-back to the ‘Big Tobacco’ hearings of the late 90’s. Everywhere and at every level of our culture, the sheer greed of Wall Street and the continuing corporatization of every aspect of our lives are beginning to send catastrophic shock-waves throughout the entire planetary existence. One need only look at the environmental collapse, the rapid rise of religious fundamentalism and related violence, the micro-and-macro impact of these out-of-control, robber-baron conglomerates, the increasing insensitivity of the population when it comes to blatant acts of violence and depravity in our media or otherwise, the perverse fascination with ‘celebrity culture’ and voyeurism for those in our society that seek only to further expose their own vanity, the disturbing level of government complacency and duplicity for the lobbyists and special interests, etc.

I want to believe that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in consciousness - the old ways giving way to the new. It has to be this way – we cannot evolve as a species without something BIG taking place - even if that something big brings with it significant suffering in the course of the grander scheme. The ripple in the still pond is always greater near the epicenter.

On a more personal level, I often wonder EXACTLY how to be in this world – how to conduct myself in my day-to-day existence. My struggle the last several years appears to be around holding my personal power and manifesting (and holding) abundance. How do I do this? And I don’t need any more metaphors or mystical analogies. One of my issues is that I am such the anti-establishment kind of person, so non-mainstream that I’ve basically alienated myself from a lot of our culturally-sanctioned paths to success. By being the ‘outsider’ but all the while secretly wanting the trappings of success that define the ‘insider’, is a hypocritical stance to say the least. I don’t know how to reconcile the two worlds. All I know is that my mind is my hindrance and my worst enemy. What I’m left with as a practice is to try – no, to risk losing everything all the time just to make damn sure that I’ve tried to do my absolute best in this life to ‘carve-out’ an existence that is inline with my ideals and my dreams. I would rather risk everything day-in-and-day-out and suffer the constant unease due to that seemingly never-ending struggle – than to remain ‘asleep’ in some cookie-cutter, societal idea of ‘a decent life’. As a friend of mine once said about a corporate gig in the typical sea of cubicles: “Man, that’s a slow death.” I couldn’t agree more.

If I have any advice for the reader it’s this: Follow your dreams no matter the cost, because if you don’t the price you’ll pay will be your very soul. This life is yours and HIS/HERS. What you do with it is between the two of you. In the end it won’t matter because you’ll return to HIM/HER. And all this will have been his folly. But if you waste this precious gift, HE/SHE may have you come back and do it all over again, and again, and again – until you get it right. So, carpe diem my dear friends and face your lives in the only skillful way that I know at this point: “I don’t know anything. Nothing at all. Thank you.

OM Shantih,



It’s been some time since my last post and it seems that a lot has happened in the last month or so. Of particular note is that a great teacher has been ‘thrust’ upon the world stage; Ekhart Tolle has been collaborating with Oprah Winfrey on a weekly Webcast that’s scheduled for ten weeks. It’s an unprecedented event in many respects. The basis of the event is Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”. It’s difficult not to see this as being a significant event in the context of the spiritual or consciousness evolution of the planet.

Oprah Winfrey has become such a major force of inspiration for so many people that I am so very happy that she has taken this latest step in her quest to help as many people as possible given her position, resources, and estimable character. I only wish that others in the media spotlight and of the financial means would take advantage of them for the good of all – rather than the good of the one. Oprah Winfrey is raising-the-bar for many celebrities and setting an example for us all. These facts will surely be her most significant and lasting legacy.

March 20th was the vernal equinox or the first day of Spring and with the season’s change I am inclined towards thoughts of potential or the future. Remaining grounded in the moment is difficult for me during this period. I’ve noticed a pattern in my life since having begun diligently practicing yoga that the transition from Winter to Spring is the most difficult for me. My body just wants to seize-up and I find it a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning. I usually get sick around this time as well – as I am right now while writing this post. I’m traditionally laid-low by a nasty cold or flu-like bug around this time of year. I always think it’s related to the crazy temperature fluctuations of the Northeast exacerbated by even crazier fluctuations inside the old NYC buildings I typically work in. I can go from freezing cold to out-and-out sweating several times a day – and that’s even when I’m feeling well. So, much of my thoughts are geared towards ‘fair weather days’ in the literal as well as the figurative senses.

Spring is the time of awakening from the 'slumber' of Winter. Its coming heralds the change of the landscape and this change reverberates throughout our lives and throughout our consciousness. It is the proverbial time of new beginnings and of being reborn. Never in my life have I been so aware of this shift. And it’s reflective of the fact that never in my life have I been so aware in general. Seeing change as it comes-and-goes, actually experiencing it, feeling it, and then having it pass – all the while remaining aware of the phenomena is a significant step. The next and more difficult step is to not be attached to the experience. That’s the trick isn’t it? Yes, indeed.

The tool that I’ve come to believe in with regard to attachments to experiences – attachments to the outcomes of change – is intention. If I am able to visualize a particular outcome and create an intention for a particular outcome, then I can ‘put it out there’ (in a myriad of ways) and then simply let them go. This is my exercise around attachment. As Eckhart Tolle and many of the spiritual masters tell us, present moment awareness is the only true place of being. So, we must each find our own ways to keep ourselves grounded in the moment, but not completely shut-off from skillfully living into our dreams and aspirations.

During this phase or transition, I’ve noticed that events in my life have seemingly sped-up to a great degree. It’s as if things that have laid dormant have all-of-the-sudden burst forth or otherwise come to fruition or resolution (or close to it). I’ve been told on good authority that things are speeding up for me, but I feel it’s true for all of us. My task is to just try to be the best person that I can be, do the absolute best that I can, and to be open to alternative points-of-view.

I want so much to be able to help others. This generalization is difficult to explain, but it is represented in multiple ways or examples in my life: I want to help Dana and I buy a house in the country or by the ocean, I want to help myself heal old wounds and live as a completely authentic being, I want to help my family and friends in any way that is needed, I want to help my immediate family (Dana, Lefty and I) live our lives in such a way that promotes peace, health, happiness and prosperity, I want to help inspire others to look deep within themselves for the answers that seem to always elude them, I want to help leave our dear Mother Earth a better place than when I came here, I want to help catapult the evolutionary shift in human consciousness to the next level. Baba Ram Dass explained it best when he says, “My karma is my dharma; meaning that what my life is presenting me with is the vehicle through which I can become free.” He explains further that his particular path is one of service or of that of a karma yogi. And Baba Ram Dass has been of great, great service to us all.

I want to end this post with a mention of another of my great teachers and inspirations, Terence McKenna. He is probably my greatest teacher in that he has inspired my thinking and my desire for empirical knowledge in terms of spirituality and human consciousness (my own consciousness) more than any other human being. I take great joy in hearing his archived words (props to Lorenzo at The Psychedelic Salon) and am constantly amazed at his seemingly bottomless wellspring of wisdom, courage, compassion, humor, and vision. I wish he was still among us. He was in my humble opinion, one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time – and probably the most important for the evolution of our species. A giant among giants. If I am to be ‘awakened’ one fine day, it is with all due credit to unsung heroes such as him.

OM Shantih,


The Eye of the Needle

I recently spent some time with another of my most important teachers of late – Darlene Van de Grift. I always look forward to seeing her and at the same time realize that I’ve still got a lot of work to do and a long way to go, so there is always a little sadness followed by depression. I’ve also been working in a corporate environment again, so I guess I feel a little depleted due to my old nemesis. I just don't seem to work well in that environment - on so many different levels. Or maybe it’s that I’ve been listening to the renowned Advaita sage Ramesh S. Balsekar of Mumbai, India speaking of free will, destiny, non-duality, etc. His words have been in my mind for a couple of weeks now, so carrying around his concept (THE concept) in my head and turning it over-and-over is tiring. I think it’s when trying to integrate something that you might just begin to grasp intellectually – but cannot totally, or within your heart - that you can become literally exhausted. Then there’s the bitter, unrelenting New York City winter. Then there are all my other issues: lack of money, struggles with work, struggles in personal relationships, struggles in my Ashtanga practice, struggling in the relationship I have with myself, etc. Ultimately, this all represents one thing - my struggle with my place in this world.

Another teacher of mine, Abdi Assadi, recently published a book called Shawdows on the Path and it is a powerful and essential study on the pitfalls of the so-called spiritual path and the irrepressible shadow archetype as describe by Carl Jung. With his guidance and that of my other teachers, I’ve come to realize that we have multiple paths in this life and just because we may believe we’re on a spiritual path, this does not alleviate the necessity to do the extremely hard work on the others – particularly the psychological and therapeutic. I must admit that I am someone who believed that if I ‘got far enough along’ the spiritual path, that this process would somehow serve to mitigate all my faults and issues. Ironically enough, my spiritual seeking just became yet another issue to add to the list!

I often wonder why I am the way I am and why my life is the way it is. On one level, I completely understand (and accept intellectually) that this is all God’s will. On another level I see that I’ve got work to do and try to do it to the best of my ability. If I am depressed or if something doesn’t go according to my grand scheme, I often find myself in the place ‘between’. Actually, I often find myself in this place no matter my emotional state. It’s as if I’m caught between God’s will and my own mind. And letting go or ‘letting God’ as some might say has never been my way. I had for many years – all my life – believed that by my sheer force of will, I could make things ‘right’. The tragedy is that we believe that we’re in control when in fact we’re flailing through life desperately trying to grasp something that will allow us a measure of sure-footing. This is the ‘seeking’ part of our nature. At this step on my long and winding road, I’m mostly interested in the ‘finding’ part, because I’ve found that the ‘seeking’ doesn’t seem to work.

It’s these diametrically opposed points of view (God’s will and Individual doer-ship or free will) that I’ve been preoccupied with since returning from India. And it’s as if the argument in my mind is becoming more-and-more concise, or worn-down to a fine edge or line between these two opposites. Call it the razor’s edge or a sort of middle way according to Buddhism. My trouble with the ‘enlightened’ perspective of ultimate non-duality (God’s will) is that it doesn’t help me get through the day per se. It appears only good for meditations on suffering and death where I need to be able to grasp the ‘gestalt’ of all things. Now I’m oversimplifying the Advaita concepts and my understanding and the daily application of them, but you get my point.

I am struggling right now. And these struggles span all aspects of my life. The knowledge that God is experiencing through me an aspect of duality and inter-human relationships as a separate ego entity with the idea of personal doer-ship does not help alleviate my very immediate suffering. At the end of the day they all become interesting words and fascinating concepts – but they do not pay the bills, build a future, heal a relationship, heal me, etc.

I’ve come to believe that the psychological work (or path) is absolutely necessary for us to progress at all along the spiritual. I recently discovered a talk given by Ann Shulgin regarding her work in psychotherapy in dealing with the shadow. The context was the use of hypnotherapy, MDMA and 2C-B, before these drugs were scheduled by the Federal Government. Her detailed explanation of the shadow and how she came to help bring it into consciousness in psychotherapy practice is compelling – even if the use of MDMA and psychedelics puts you off.

More-and-more I am realizing how this shadow aspect of my unconscious mind wreaks havoc in my conscious or waking life – through projections of our shadow selves onto others. I am not whole. I have shunted-off vital parts of myself and in doing so, became a fractured person. I think we’re all fractured to an extent - unless you’ve done the work necessary to fully integrate. Often in the spiritual and yoga community there is talk of ‘being authentic’ and I feel that this miss-used platitude's true meaning isn’t fully explored. Denial is a powerful, addictive pattern in our lives and the work necessary to open one’s eyes to the subtleties of your own shadow is not easy. If anything, this process is at the very least, daunting and monumental.

As Ann Shulgin so eloquently related, coming to face and accept your shadow is probably the most difficult and brave thing one can do in one’s life. I am not completely sure how best to do this in my own experience. It’s a unique and individual pursuit in every case – of this I am convinced. For me, I am compelled in several directions - individual and couples psychotherapy, deep-tissue body work like Rolfing or KMI, a disciplined yoga practice, work with skilled ‘alternative’ therapists/teachers and the path of indigenous, shamanic healing. Your direction or list would probably look much different.

Darlene said to me, “The universe is trying to force you into conformity - forcing you through the eye of the needle.” Of course ‘conformity’ is one of my hot-button words and issues and I reacted defensively. I now see that the metaphor is appropriate. I need to fully integrate all aspects of my conscious and unconscious mind in order to become myself fully. As I do this fundamental work, I am able to become the integrated thread or stream that flows through my life – and through grace.

You must seek and find your own path to heal and integrate your shadow. It’s probably the most important thing you’ll ever do.

OM shantih,


PS – I’m almost finished completely re-designing DharmaBuilt.com and there I hope you’ll find content and links that may help you along your own path(s).