Embracing Our Selves

 

Embracing OurselvesThe Voice Dialogue Manual, Novato, CA: New World Library, 1989.

The Voice Dialogue Manual was my companion in the two years I practiced dialoguing with my inner selves. Let us first clarify what voice dialogue actually is all about? It’s a synonym for the inner dialogue with all our inner selves.

The Voice Dialogue Manual accompanied me with valuable advice over these years; I highly appreciated its clarity and depth that gives immediate credit to the authors’ immense expertise with facilitating personal change and transformation. This is not just a technical manual that teaches a method. It’s that also, but much more. Here is how the authors introduce the book:

Voice Dialogue is not a school of psychotherapy, it is not a substitute for psychotherapy, and it is not a profession in and of itself. It is a technique for psychological exploration and for the expansion of awareness. Although it can be a highly effective tool for any psychotherapist it should be clearly understood that it is not a complete and autonomous therapeutic system./78

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The Invisible Landscape

 

The Invisible LandscapeMind Hallucinogens and the I Ching, New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

The Invisible Landscape is the most esoteric of the three Terence McKenna books reviewed here. Many of the topics he treats in his other books, he treats here as well, but he presents them under a slightly different light, or in more subtle language.

His standard theme psychedelics, for example, assumes a new dimension, together with his regard upon science:

Psychedelic drugs have always been and remain the most useful molecular probes available to science for exploring the relationship between the subjective experience of mind and neurobiological processes. /Preface XIX

Despite its pretensions to objectivity, science, like any other human institution, places a certain vested interest in its own self-preservation; thus it is likely to be less than enthusiastic, if not openly hostile, toward any investigative strategy that could potentially call its most basic assumptions in question. /Id.

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Food of the Gods

 

Food of the GodsThe Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishers, 1993.

Food of the Gods of perhaps the best book Terence McKenna has written, and I have read it with an enthusiastic participation that I have rarely experienced in my literary life. It was as if I was co-authoring the book while reading it.

And this book is much more coherent than The Archaic Revival, and much less esoteric than The Invisible Landscapethe book I shall review next. In fact, it treats a very important subject that is rather obfuscated in modern times: food. When I say obfuscated I really mean that most modern city dwellers have developed no consciousness of what they ingest on a daily basis; they are just gnawing away their very juice of life, with all the toxics that modern processed food contains.

While in ancient times food was medicine. You still have this philosophy in the Chinese food tradition where there are many dishes, for example a whole array of mushroom dishes, that originally were concocted for medical purposes but that today we eat just for enriching our daily diet. There is one rather esoteric dish among them, that is called the ‘black chicken.’  Continue reading

The Archaic Revival

 

The Archaic RevivalSpeculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFO’s, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess and the End of History, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1992.

In The Archaic Revival, Terence McKenna lays the groundwork for something like a psychedelic culture, a society based on new values.

In the etiology of the group alienation that is so typical for our culture, the author detects a basic denial of ecstasy.

McKenna’s views are deliberately political in the sense that he claims nobody can develop a sane mind within an insane culture, without rejecting that culture in the first place:

In addition to choosing to repress the strange abilities of the shaman and the psychic potential of contact with the Other, Western tradition has a built-in bias against self experimentation with hallucinogens. One of the consequences of this is that not enough has been written about the phenomenology of personal experiences with the visionary hallucinogens. /3

I am a political activist, but I think that the first duty of a political activist is to become psychedelic. Otherwise you’re not making your moves cognizant of the entire field of action./13

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Pleasure

 

PleasureA Creative Approach to Life, Alachua, Fl: Bioenergetic Press, 1970/2004.

In Pleasure: A Creative Approach to Life, Alexander Lowen (1910-2008) explains why pleasure is of the utmost importance for a sane and balanced life, and for both mental and physical health and wellbeing.

We are living in another era than Dr. Lowen did. The control of the state has risen about everywhere in the world, the principles of pleasure and self-regulation have largely been abandoned and replaced with a sort of compulsive morality or moralism that interpenetrates today all of life, and of political life.

Hence, the books of the late Dr. Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Alexander Lowen are the reminders today for us that the social policies in place, with their negativistic view of the human being, their tendency to declare more and more of natural behavior ‘a crime’ and to sharply control human behavior, together with the prohibition of psychedelic substances mark a turn in the wrong direction, away from nature and toward more and more structural violence and state control.  Continue reading

The Power of Myth

 

The Power of MythWith Bill Moyers, ed. by Sue Flowers, New York: Anchor Books, 1988.

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell is an extraordinary book because it’s not a book. It’s a typescript of radio dialogues, which makes for the liveliness of the content. I recommend it to everyone who lacks time to read more of the great scholar, or who is a bit at pains with reading highly academic diction.

This book can be savored word for word, it can be read aloud, it can be read at night, as bedtime lecture, and it will always give a fascinating read. I read it in one night, as it was such a fascinating lecture. Bill Moyers is a very present interviewer and he surely had a liking for interviewing ‘the Great Campbell;’ his sympathy for him is not to be overlooked, and was most conducive to bringing about an invaluable document of the deeper thoughts of the great scholar. Campbell initiates the discourse with a general thought on modern science and its strong focus upon specialism. Continue reading

Oriental Mythology

 

Oriental MythologyNew York: Penguin Arkana, 1991, Originally published in 1962.

When we want to learn what the difference is between our culture and its patriarchal roots, so well described by Joseph Campbell in Occidental Mythology, then we are on a path of synthesis, and of unification.

Campbell expresses it in Oriental Mythology in the terms ‘The Indian point of view is metaphysical, poetical; the biblical, ethical and historical.’

We could also say that the Oriental mind is better able to tolerate opposites instead of being trapped by them, and as a result can assume the simultaneous existence and non-existence of reality, god or truth. Or, to use modern terminology, the Orient did not need quantum physics for understanding that life is essentially patterned and nonlinear, not hierarchical and linear. Continue reading