Chuck’s Place: Stopping the World

I could not get enough of Professor Luther. I took four undergraduate history courses with him. A supreme dramatist, Professor Luther made history come alive. When you sat in one of his lectures, the door to the present world was closed and you were transported into the midst of the Russian Revolution or the Protestant Reformation. Professor Luther stopped the world.

He was always impeccably dressed, conservatively, in a three-piece suit and narrow tie. He was thin, of medium height, with eyes that were shifty with an almost hidden condescension, but truthfully hiding a scholarly knowing, and as his student you knew that he was alone in his knowledge and awareness. You were never going to be his friend; you were always the student of this man who so clearly knew something that you did not know. He would take you on a journey into a different world, but in the end he would leave you back on the shore as he turned and walked away without a backward glance. He was gone, without attachment to his students, until the next journey.

As I sat in the classroom, waiting for class to begin, I would wonder where he was. He always simply appeared, out of nowhere. Calmly and quietly closing the door, he’d walk in measured step, in deliberate trance, to the podium and with a glint in his eyes, his face almost vibrating, he’d shift us, the students, into another time and place. He was a mouse that could roar. He’d whisper and he’d boom in a thundering voice, like an opera singer that could span the vocal range in an instant. Equally, he would pause in dead silence for what seemed like an eternity, as we sat waiting for what came next. We were captivated.

I’ve come to realize that Professor Luther’s dramatics were actually a subterfuge to his real teaching, which was, in his words: It’s not the truth that matters; it’s what people believe to be true that constructs reality. As Professor Luther recapitulated history in his courses, this truth was exposed over and over again. Professor Luther’s technique was to catch our attention through stopping the world, whereby showing us that reality was merely a consensually accepted description or interpretation.

The shamans teach us that it is only through stopping the world that we might glimpse the relativity of what we call reality; that our world is a description we all agree upon. Reality, in shamans’ terms, is: where we decide to place our intent. Likewise, the shamans contend that there are other worlds we might inhabit, other truths we might discover, if we are willing to shift our intent, if we are willing to let go of the description we cling to so desperately in an attempt to consolidate ourselves and feel secure.

As I laid down my pen after writing these words, I next spoke to a journeyer fresh out of the rainforest, having just experienced sacred ayahuasca ceremonies under the guidance of shamans. In synchronistic agreement, this journeyer shared the experience of having the world stop: Reality is where you place your intent. The interpretation that is assigned to an energetic experience becomes that experience. For instance, if we think dark thoughts our world becomes hell. Our beliefs, what we attach to, generate our reality. Our beliefs, our descriptive interpretations of life, create and construct the world we live in.

Within that same hour, in another synchronistic agreement, I read Jan’s blog after it came out on Wednesday. Jan describes how, in her own recapitulation, she completely dismantled her ancient description of herself. She stopped the world, deconstructed and reconstructed herself. She entered a new reality unburdened of past secrets.

America, at this very moment, finds itself poised to stop the world and generate a new reality. The lines are drawn now between the truth and the forces richly investing in influencing what we believe to be true; the simple truth against a total lie; total simplicity versus total greed. What world will we choose to now construct? The truths couldn’t be more apparent—thank you nature! The lies couldn’t be better funded nor more comically presented. The stage is set for the ultimate revolution: Do we evolve into a new sustainable description of reality or do we go down, nobly dancing and singing on the sinking Titanic? Let’s thank both nature and the extreme forces of greed for offering us this amazing opportunity to stop the world.

Stop the world—tolerate the tension of disorientation. Let it be.

Are we going to evolve or are we going to stay the same? This is our collective challenge, but, like all revolutions, it is but the subterfuge, the drama. The real challenge is whether we, as individuals, can look into the mirror of the outer world and take on the responsibility to truly stop the world—the world we signed up for, the world we uphold, the world that must be stopped. It is our extreme attachment to the security of the world we know, regardless of how insane and unworkable that might be, that keeps us the same, merely complaining about the mess we feel powerless to change. The real culprit in all of this is our personal unwillingness to stop the known world we are so attached to and place our intent on a new description, a new viable description of the world.

The shamans have extremely pragmatic tools to accrue the energy to stop the world. One such tool is to erase personal history. The shamans are definite that upholding a uniform description of the world requires tremendous reinforcement. Every day we engage in an incessant internal dialogue that judges and categorizes everything, especially our selves, as we constantly reaffirm the same description of who we collectively are, who you personally are, and how it all fits together.

Socially, we engage in the dialogue of catch-up. “So, what’s new? What have you been up to? How’s so and so, and such and such?” What ensues here is filling each other with the data of each other’s lives, which is then affirmed, categorized and judged. Energetically, we walk away comfortably reinforced in who we are and who they are. We now hold each other to the expectations emanating from the presentations of ourselves. Our world is protected, defined, and known. This is family; this is friendship.

Catch-up ensures consistency and uniformity, as we remain fixated within the known world, the known compound of the self. When shamans suggest we erase personal history they mean to break all the rules of the familiar, in effect, to shatter the uniformity of the known and open the gate to unfamiliarity—the gateway to stopping the world.

If we are used to playing catch-up we might try withholding, not sharing, some or all of our experiences with family and friends, simply allow ourselves to hold them in total aloneness. In contrast, if our familiarity is to withhold everything, we might challenge ourselves to tell all. The operative principle is to break ranks with a familiar definition of self, consciously and mindfully intending and engaging life beyond a static definition: engaging life beyond the veils of illusion. Take a walk on the wild side; inhabit a new description of self. Make room to become a self unknown to the self. Change your name, but be careful not to stay the same, with merely a new name that fits an old description.

Another related tool that shamans employ to accrue energy to stop the world is to disrupt the routines of life. Many people wake up in the night and struggle to return to sleep. Redefine the night. Choose instead to get up, get dressed, and take a walk—outside. We can be assured that within moments we will feel the sensation of stopping the world and stepping into a new reality. We will notice how frightening and exhilarating crossing the threshold from routine into the unknown can be. That is the real challenge. Can we really do it?

Can we eat two meals a day or eight? Furthermore, whatever we do today, can we not repeat it tomorrow? Can we take a different route to work? Sit in a different seat? Watch a different show? Wear our underwear backwards? The possibilities are endless.

Every time we disrupt the routines of life or erase personal history we accrue energy toward a major stopping of the world as we practice becoming comfortable in flux. It is only through becoming comfortable with consciously stopping the world that we can allow for new possibilities. All who individually engage in these practices are stalking life in a new world. This kind of new world is truer to the flow of energy. This new description of the world is sustainable, a description in flux with the true flow of natural energy.

Be empowered, stop the world, and when it comes time to vote, change the world!

In flux,

Go to the Source

Here are a few quotes to ponder from Hexagram #48: Well, taken from The Living I Ching by Deng Ming-Dao.

“The muddy well does not feed. No birds come to an ancient well.”

“Well: draw from it, and you draw from the source. No matter how advanced a civilization becomes, its foundations depend on nature. A source of water cannot be replaced.”

“On a practical level, we must maintain our supply of water and food. On a spiritual level, our understanding deepens the more we dwell on the sources of our existence.”

Water from the Earth

“The water comes to us freely from the earth, deposited by the last winter’s rains…This free use of a well is a metaphor for how we should conduct our lives. If we are careful and healthy in our conduct, we will be replenished each day. Accordingly, we must give all that we can today, knowing that tomorrow will bring new support. Those who are narrow and selfish with their energies grow smaller, not greater. Give everything that you can. Do not hold back: unless water is drawn from a well, new water cannot flow in.”

“Water from the earth is wonderfully pure, refreshing, and invigorating. Our scientists can find little different about this water in their laboratories, but those who drink from the wellsprings know better. Expensive bottled water and manufactured beverages cannot help us in the way a well can. Eschew the artificial. Go to the source.”

A Day in a Life: Face the Chaos & Question Everything

We must all make personal decisions that are right for us, but we must also challenge our selves to go beyond our limitations. We must ask ourselves: What is the possibility that I may be getting this wrong, that I am not seeing something? What am I missing? We must all take personal responsibility for our lives, for how we interpret our experiences, and how we ultimately decide to view and live in the world.

During my three-year long intensive recapitulation, I learned how to question not only the reality that I was encountering from my past, but also how I was going to interpret it this time around. Could I really trust that what came to greet me out of old forgotten memories had really happened? How could I embrace the truth of what I was learning about my childhood? How could I take it all in and move on to a new interpretation of what it meant when what I was reliving was often so devastatingly overwhelming that some days I could not even get out of bed?

I learned how to question everything. This was the only way I was going to get through the recapitulation of traumatic events from my childhood that had held me so tightly in their embrace for decades, though I had little or no inkling of this fact. I knew little about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the tentacles of trauma that infiltrate every aspect of a person’s life until finally faced. For the most part, I felt that I was not really living life as I sensed it could be lived, but I did not know why until I elected to take the recapitulation journey. When I began to allow old memories to surface I had to face old judgments, prejudices of self and others, truths and lies that were incredibly uncomfortable to confront, disassemble and release myself from.

The entire time I worked through this recapitulation process I also disassembled the world as I knew it, the outer world as well as the inner world—one could not hold up without the other. As I deconstructed the old self, I found that I could not live in the same world that the old self had constructed. Recapitulation meant a total disintegration of the self I had been. So, as a result, who I thought I was and how I viewed the world all changed as I plodded along, chipping away, day by day, at what I thought was reality.

Some days I would wake up in such pain that I immediately wanted to seek medical advice, but at the same time I knew there was nothing in the conventional medical world that would help the somatic experiences that my body was telling me I had to go through. There were times when I did indeed need to go to the doctor, like the time I had Lyme disease and could not walk or think properly. There were other times when what was buried inside produced real physical symptoms that needed attention, though I knew they originated from something deep inside me looking for a way out, like the time I had skin cancer. I knew it was not related to sun exposure, but to the unknown stuff that was putrefying inside me, needing release. I had to learn to distinguish between these issues by questioning the reality of my situation and determine how to address them, taking full responsibility for my choices along the way.

As I faced some very painful memories, I had to learn how to let myself be taken into other worlds, knowing that I had the power within to face the truth that those worlds were indeed as much reality as the everyday world that was looking more and more unreal to me. As I recapitulated, I learned, by taking one incremental step at a time, how to be an observer as well as a participant in those alternate realities. In strengthening my inner conviction to complete the task my body was laying out for me, calling me to, I found that I had within me more than enough personal power to face the challenges presented and change the way I experienced everything.

I learned to question everything too; from the physical symptoms I was experiencing to the way I thought. I let myself learn, through the process of recapitulation, to perceive reality differently—reality being all the conventions I had been taught and adhered to, all the beliefs and ideas that kept the world in order. I allowed myself to blow apart everything that held me together. In the end it was my salvation. It not only changed the way I viewed the world, but it changed the way I viewed my place in it.

What am I really here for? What is it that I must do in this lifetime? I knew I was not here for a selfish reason, that to be eternally depressed and self-absorbed was not going to cut it in the long run. I knew that I was no longer going to be able to hide, to isolate myself in a private world of make-believe. I faced the deepest kind of isolation and make-believe during my recapitulation process and found that they no longer granted me anything of substance, though at one time they had been the backbone of my entire existence.

In constantly questioning the true meaning of my life throughout the recapitulation process, I learned that the main thing I was being asked to do was to break down, literally. I had to deconstruct my entire being, inside and outside, into tiny pieces that I then had to sift through before finding the proper way to reconstruct those pieces into new pictures. As I broke down the past, I also learned how to break down the present and, in so doing, be open to a new kind of future.

I know that all of this may sound very esoteric and impossible to do in the context of a very busy life, with all that we must encounter each day to simply survive, but it is not that difficult if one is committed to change. From personal experience, I can say that the recapitulation process is one of total reevaluation of self and world, leading to the ability to take full responsibility for both. It means taking on the challenge to committing to change with a conviction that defies all other methods.

Perhaps the most helpful part of the entire recapitulation experience, a simple statement that not only anchored me as I entered the darkest and most complicated issues of self and world, was this one: Question reality. Chuck said this to me on more than one occasion.

One day it came up in our conversation as the most meaningful of statements and the next day I was driving behind a car that had an enormous bumper sticker plastered across its fender saying the same thing in large letters: QUESTION REALITY. I could not ignore that it was exactly the right message. In continually questioning reality, I was able to not only face my darkest moments but re-envision them in the context of a new world, a world that I was totally in alignment with, having allowed it to form out of my deepest inner process.

I wish for all people to have a new world vision, but it can only happen by facing the world that we have constructed. This is what we are facing now as a nation and as a global world, but most importantly, personally. We are facing the reality we have created, trusted, and believed in. But now we must re-envision it. It is time to see it for what it is: a reality of exploitation, distrust, greed, selfishness, with little regard for human, animal and natural life. Are we really so heartless?

How can we re-envision a just and right world for all? In questioning reality as it now stands, breaking down the rules and dogmas we have lived by, facing the truth that we are all responsible for everything that has happened and is happening by our adherence to old ideas, tactics, and habits, we can begin to change.

We must all change. This, I believe, is the only way for us to evolve. But even change must be radically different from the means of change as enacted in the past. It is not enough to reinsert new rules that uphold an old order. It is time to face the chaos. Only in facing the chaos within will we be able to face the chaos without. If we don’t do that we will simply reassemble what we have already discovered does not work. We must indeed question everything about ourselves; about the worlds we live in, and ask ourselves to face the truth of the existence we have constructed.

Why am I really here? Personally, I continue to face that question each day as I read, write, meditate, and break through the conventions that arise. The old world will never give up on me; it will continue to pose its side of the story. But I must face it and ask: Are you the reality I wish to live in? The answer that always comes up is a resounding: No.

Still questioning everything,

Cherokee Wisdom

Skunk cabbage or something beautiful? It all depends on what you want to see.

“Negative thinking is a habit that can be changed—if we really want to change it. It is too often like pressing on a sore spot just one more time to see if it still hurts. Most people’s problems are found in areas of need—the need to have difficulty, the need to have something to deal with so they can feel needed and important. After all, what do we do when no one is depending on us? It is an innate Cherokee belief that we have no need to borrow trouble…let it stay where it is.” —Joyce Sequichie Hifler

“Though we are powerful and strong, and we know how to fight, we do not wish to fight.” —The Cherokees

#756 Nature as Mirror

Written by Jan Ketchel with a channeled message from Jeanne Ketchel.

Today, Jeanne says the following:

As I have been expressing quite often lately, turn to nature for guidance. You cannot go wrong if you study the ever-unfolding process of the natural world. You will learn more about the self by placing nature’s process next to your own. By living in concert with the natural world you too will truly live and truly change.

Study nature's process

It is not easy to be human. All of you must learn how the world works. You must truly be in it in order to understand what else is available to you as a spiritual seeker. Use nature as your mirror. Observe what nature does to cause change to happen, to cause new growth and transformation. You too hold within you the power to change and transform the self.

It may take some personal earthquakes, tsunamis, torrential rains and devastating floods to allow for real growth, but if you accept the fact that life would be pretty uneventful without such inner suffering, and that you would not advance otherwise, then perhaps you will be able to welcome your own natural disasters as necessary.

Personal crises are the transformative moments.

Look upon such times in your life as natural shifts and use them to grow.

Thank you to Jeanne for this message today.

Most humbly offered,