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Be ever mindful of your thoughts!

I recently worked (again) with the 'teacher plant' salvia divinorum. This is a very powerful psychoactive entheogen that I approach with a high degree of reverence and respect. It's traditional use is by the indigenous curanderos (healers) of the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, Mexico. Without going into a long discourse on the nature of teacher plants and what we can learn from them, let me just say that the lessons imparted during a SD session are unlike anything you may encounter in the 'real world'. First, the 'real world' is but one of many and the true nature of it is that of energy and consciousness. I'll leave it at that. Many intrepid explorers and healers have preceded me on this type of journey - going back thousand-upon-thousands of years. Of note are the likes of Aldous Huxley, Carlos Castaneda, Terrence McKenna, Ram Das (Richard Alpert), Timothy Leary, Daniel Siebert and a host of contemporary notables - typical found in the community of alternative medicine, the study indigenous peoples healing/spiritual practices, and the study of the nature of consciousness and our physical world/reality. Unfortunately this type of study requires one being somewhat discreet as the negative connotations of 'drug use' are pervasive and negatively impact the responsible use of entheogens by respectful adults simply asking the fundamental questions of human existence and experience -"Who/what am I?", "Where do I come from and where am I going?", "How do I heal myself, others, the planet?", "How do I serve the greater good and how do I live to my highest potential?", "Can I talk to you God, do you hear me, and can I (please) hear you?".

The great masters and teachers do not require the assistance of a teacher plant such as SD to divine the answers to these (simple to them) questions. But there are very few 'enlightened' masters in the world and they are not readily accessible! So, the consummate searcher/explorer that I am requires a radical (but practical) approach. This is NOT a recreational pursuit or pastime. The teacher plant will NOT tolerate being treated with such disrespect. As it stands, I am terrified of its use. But the very core of my being is even more terrified of NOT using it and remaining ignorant of the wisdom it can impart. Let this be a warning to you.

During this last session, it became startlingly apparent that we 'construct' our perceptive reality by the thoughts we choose to think. This may sound a little vague or worse, smack of a typically overused pseudo-spiritual platitude, but the experience was that of 'real-time' construction of reality (see Terrence McKenna's reference to machine elves) according to the 'direction' of my thoughts. We can choose to think in negative/cynical/pessimistic terms, or we can make the choice to think optimistically and remain positive in our daily outlook. The choice is ours to make and I now have a new-found respect for the much misunderstood notion of "the power of positive thinking"! This practice isn't easy in our complex and sometimes harsh world. So, I think our task is to find what is important (positive) and to strip away that which is negative. We are definitely influenced by the company we keep, the media we choose to consume, the foods we eat, the practices/past-times we pursue, etc. Ska Maria la Pastora (SD) is telling us to be mindful of our habitual patterns of thought and to make a conscious effort to focus on the 'sweet' as opposed to the 'bitter'. We co-create our reality, but we alone create our life experience and it's trajectory. That journey can be full of beauty, peace and compassion, but we must make the choice to pursue and live beauty, peace and compassion. You won't find it by constantly associating with (and consuming) violence, malice, pain, suffering, ugliness, vanity, greed, envy, jealousy, hatred, etc.

OM Shantih,


Does this Path have a Heart?

So I woke up at 5:00AM today with my mind FULL of thoughts and memories of innumerable mistakes and examples of foolish and even reprehensible behavior. As one passed, another exploded into my mind to easily take its place. After a while I found it rather comical that I could easily 'will' another shameful example and yet couldn't remember a single example of something good I had done. It's as if my mind was 'blocked' or stuck in one mode (negative/bad memories) and refused to switch channels. I thought of the 'big mind' technique of meditation and of the various players in our mind and knew that my self-critical mind was in full control. This of course didn't help one bit and all I could do was to simply ride it out! Ugh.

I was scheduled to go on an IMS/Vipassana meditation retreat this past week. It was a 14 day program. At the last moment I chose not to go because of practicalities (money) and such. Here I am looking for work, behind on my bills and I'm contemplating going away for 2 weeks on a meditation retreat! Funny how we always seem to have either plenty of time on our hands but not enough money or vice versa.

It's so very difficult to ACTUALLY believe that things are as they should be. Particularly when you take the time on a regular basis (sadhana) to check in and simply observe. For me the practice of yoga, meditation, therapy/counseling, introspection, reading books by the great masters, etc. is that 'checking-in'. As difficult as one's external situation is or can be, it can always be comforting to find a bit of peace in your spiritual practice.

But when your internal world is under assault, it's hard to find a still point. That's when a spiritual practice shows us the way...

I am contemplating my options and opportunities as far as a new F/T position is concerned. I've been out of work since late August. The time-off has been good - more time with Dana and Lefty, but the usual stress is always present. A pattern I see repeating itself as far as the work search is concerned is that if I go for money, the commute is horrid, the environment lousy, the work stressful, the hours long, etc. but if I happen upon a gig where those characteristics are actually good, then the money isn't. What's with that? I suppose it's the reminder that you should simply take the opportunity that represents the best chance at personal and professional growth (follow your heart) and turn a blind eye towards the salary. Kind of a variation on the theme that if you follow your heart or do what you love, the money will come (eventually).

Speaking of following one's heart, I came across one of my favorite quotes yesterday:

"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that a path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free from fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once whan I was very young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I understand it. I will tell you what it is. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are a path going through the bush or into the bush...In my own life I could say that I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor's question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart and the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you."

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
by Carlos Casteneda

OM Shantih,