A Ferocious Yes!

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I got a speeding ticket on my way to a spiritual retreat. Now, if this was a buddhist retreat I was heading to, the fact that I was going 80 miles an hour in a 55 mile per hour zone would seem very unpeaceful – counter buddhistic you might say. But since I was heading to a retreat with evolutionary spirituality guru Andrew Cohen, it was somehow fitting. Peace? Forget peace! Cohen teaches that the evolutionary impulse wants creative friction, it wants to burn. Be a human bonfire, make trouble, get out and change the world. So the fact that I had a sense of urgency, that I was in a big hurry to get to the retreat, is very appropriate. Even if I have to pay a price…

I’ve read Cohen’s magazine, What is Enlightenment? (now EnlightenNEXT), listened to audio recordings of his teachings, and befriended some of his students, teachers in their own right like Carter Phipps, and I’ve always been inspired. I feel a natural and deep resonance with these teachings. They are contemporary, fiery and liberating in a way that few other teachings are. But coming here to Foxhollow in Massachusetts and listening to Andrew in person took it to a whole new level. It was a direct transmission.

By the end of the weekend retreat, called “Changing the World from the Inside Out”, I had the sense that my spiritual bonfire had a barrel of jet fuel poured onto it. Andrew teaches that all of us have, at the deepest level, an Authentic Self. This is our original face, and it is the evolutionary impulse which began some 14 billion years ago with the Big Bang, and continues to unfold to this day, in each and every one of us. We just need to wake up to this fact, and own it, and the tremendous responsibility it leaves us with – the responsibility to transcend the confines of our limiting ego, that seperate self sense, and step into the drivers seat, and start consciously evolving, co-creating the universe. When you really get this, that you are one of the many faces of God – yes You – at a deep, deep level, it is nothing less than awe inspiring. Inside you is a fiery force, a creative force, an emerging urgency to unfold, to blossom, to move through this world with uncompromising authenticity. Everything changes from this perspective. You have a limited amount of time here in the manifest realm, and there is no more time for procrastination, no more time for playing the victim, for licking your ego wounds, for whining your life away- your extraordinary life begins today.

Andrew doesn’t coddle his students, he urges us to step on the gas and go for it. One of the excercises he asked us to do was to imagine the ego from the perspective of the authentic self. What does it look like, what does it feel like? This simple exercise is quite profound when you really give it a go. First of all, it requires that you take the perspective of the authentic self. Far too often (for many of us, all of the time), we identify our “I” as the ego. Flip this around, and realize that your true “I” is your authentic self, your God self. Your original face. Then, from this perspective, have a look at your ego. What do you see?

I saw my ego as a huge, over inflated hot air balloon. Distended, taut and puffed up. And then it just popped – kaboom! – shrivelled up to it’s true size, a wrinkled little piece of rubber. A bit like a used condom. Not that it was gone – it’s still there, and most likely it will always still be there. The ego has a purpose, it emerged for a reason- that sense of seperation from the One, allows Us to step back, and see Ourselves, to celebrate creation, and to engage in a way that singularity can’t. One of the unique gifts of human consciousness, is that we “know that we know.” We are G-d seeing Herself. The ego helps to make this possible. But it isn’t the be all and end all – it’s just a small slice of who We are, a tool, and we’ve over inflated it, made it into our everything. Instead of allowing it to drive, what if you were to (as spiritual cowgirl Sera Beak suggests) give it one of those little toy steering wheels and a baby rattle, and put it in the back seat, where it belongs. Don’t let it drive!

Tommorrow producer Cher Hawrysh and I are going to interview Andrew for Fierce Light Films new feature documentary project, in the early stages of development, called “Evolve Dissolve: Another World is Here.” This is the very first shoot of the film, and a fitting launching pad as we set off on a new journey.

“Evolutionary enlightenment calls for egoless participation in the life-process for the sake of the evolution of consciousness itself. We are all desperately needed right now. For what? To truly awaken, to become enlightened, so that we can consciously participate, as liberated souls, in the life-process. What is the point of the experience of incarnation? To finally be able to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the life-process—to EVOLUTION—to conscious evolution, so that we can make a real difference in this crazy, divided, suffering world. Yes, enlightenment for the twenty-first century calls us all to participate wholeheartedly—that means with everything we’ve got—for everyone else’s sake, for the upliftment of all of life, RIGHT NOW, as liberated beings. Yes, we are all needed, by our very own Self. Desperately.” –Andrew Cohen

It’s an incredibly positive vision, in which the Big Bang, and everything that’s come since, including human consciousness, is seen a great big Yes!

So what about you? Are you ready to start living an extraordinary life? What does your authentic self look like, taste like, feel like? How about your ego? Who would you rather have in the drivers seat?

The Urge to Manifest

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It goes something like this…

First, I just was.  A void of pure potential.  Shunyata. Emptiness – but pregnant with possibility.  I had this deep, unspoken urge to manifest…you know the feeling. One thing lead to another, which lead to another and before you know it, I was over the edge: it was the Big Bang, the Big “Ohhhh” , the Divine Orgasm…and I let out a moan that was long and low and deeeeeeep – way below the range of human ears – this Kosmik boooooooming sound wave that slowed and thickened and transformed slowly – oh you don’t know nothin’ bout how slow I can go – slowly into matter. Slow – like a few billion years slow – a time  of birthing galaxies, exploding stars, spiral nebulae, black holes, fiery intensity, and burgeoning solar systems.  Me became We, a multiple orgasm of complexification and diversification that keeps on coming and coming with no end in sight. 

Recently, this little blue planet called earth popped out of the Kosmik womb. This I of the great Me was a quiet baby, for a long long time.  But finally, I caught my breath, found some air molecules, then  some of My H’s found an 0 and voila – I had my blood.  The first oceans were a sexy soup.  Slowly rock turned to flesh.

Way late in the game, those early twinkling splashes of stardust turned into human beings. I began to awaken into consciousness.   I disovered spirit. I discovered matter.  The two went hand in hand like lovers, and I revelled in this manifest realm, I worshipped Her as a Goddess, as a Lover.  Good times!!!

Then a new kid on the block arrived, a part of Me named Christ, and at first everything He said jived with what I knew.      But a short blink of an eye later I lost Him to dogma and digression, and I was severely dissapointed.   Huh, we’re original sinners? What, pleasure is bad? Wait – you’re saying I can’t talk to God by Myself any more? And you’ll kill me if I beg to differ?  Weird.   Scary. Disturbing.

Tired of the churchy hyporcrisy,  my ancestors became Mennonites, a pacifistic utopianistic tightly knit religious community that was trying to live by the true core tenets of Christ’s teachings, rejecting the excesses of what they saw as a corrupted Christian faith and a violent culture at large, refusing to take part in war and bloodshed.  

When the Dutch government asked them to go to war they refused, and to avoid forced service they moved to the shores of the Caspian Sea. They lived in peace for several hundred years, maintaining their isolation and their ideals, until again they were told that they would have to kill. This time they moved, en masse, to the New World: Canada.

My grandmother was raised in Alberta in the strict Mennonite fashion. And as usual with my peeps, she was a trouble maker.  She didn’t like the patriachal structure of the religion. She especially resented the fact that as a girl she was not allowed to ice skate. She left as soon as she could, on the arms of a ne’er do well from down south named Missouri Jack.   She raised her eight children without any religion.

In the late fifties the religious void was filled when, one by one, my family became Bahai’s. Baha’u’ll’ah, the founder of the faith, taught that humanity is undergoing a process of spiritual evolution, similar to the growth of an individual. We are in a state of adolescence, albeit a stormy one, but Bahai’s possess an unshakable belief that we will make it through to global maturity, to a time of global peace. They believe we are on the verge of a great leap in consciousness that will bring humanity to a future where, ‘world peace is not only possible, but inevitable.’

As a child I was deeply committed and pious, a little holy roller, which culminated in a pilgrimage to the Baha’i holy city of Haifa, Israel, when I was nine. But as a teenager I found that I was unable to embrace a single wholesale program. One tenet of the faith is ‘the independent investigation of truth.’ You need to come to your own understanding of truth, instead of just following the path of least resistance, succumbing to the pressures of family or culture. So I left, to ‘independently investigate truth.’

Today, I realize that I will never belong to a single belief system. What I look for are the universal truths,the mystic heart, and I do my very best to live by these truths. I believe the true heart of the sacred is accessible to us all,not just for the experts.  We can all be “mystics without monasteries” if we so desire.

Alongside my spiritual investigation, from a very young age I had a strong sense of social responsibility, and all my life have been an active agent of change, on the front lines of the planet, working as a media activist.

But like many people, my two sides – political and spiritual – have been deeply divided. In progressive circles, there has long been a deep distrust of religion, that opiate of the masses, which has been used and abused in the name of power and domination. It takes tremendous courage to ‘come out of the closet as a spiritual person’ in the activist world.

On the spiritual side, there has long been a distrust of politics, with it’s biting cynicism and tendency to focus on the negative. In the extreme, there is a belief that this world is an illusion, a place of sin and temptation, and the best we can do is get the hell out, as fast as we can, to that pie in the sky when we die, however you might envision it. I have to wonder: 14 billion years of evolution, so we can simply transcend it all? Hmmm….

Today, I feel that the need to merge the power of action with the depth of spirit is urgent, crucial, in fact, the direction we need to go if we want to have any hope of coming through the “Great Turning” with our precious small blue planet intact. But I dream of much more than survival – I dream of utter transformation.

I try my best to live my truth, to build true power from within, so that all my actions come from a place of deep, deep authenticity. The means are the ends. Transformation begins this very moment, not in some distant future. It is personal, it is political, it is spiritual, it is global. The journey begins with this very breath.

– Velcrow Ripper
Toronto Island, Canada
www.fiercelight.org