Tag Archives: introspection

The Consciousness Files, Peter L Nelson: Seeing Beyond the Ordinary

 

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This is the very first episode of The Consciousness Files, where I regularly chat with some of the world’s most interesting thinkers, feelers, seers and be-ers. The subject is the human mind and its limits (if there are any).

My very learned and perceptive guest on Episode 1 of The Consciousness Files today is Dr. Peter L Nelson – author, psychologist and seer. Peter is an explorer of non-ordinary awareness, a very similar notion to what I’d call integrated intelligence. In Peter’ case, this allows him to directly know someone’s psycho-emotional state and the forces that shape it.

Peter began his scientific career in the early 1960s, exploring perception and consciousness. Later he became a social scientist and focused his research on how people create a picture of reality, including the visions of mystics and the highly intuitive, who seemed to be able to see directly into the minds and thoughts of others, as well as the last and future.

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I stumbled upon Peter a year or so ago, when I read his wonderful book, The Way of a Seer. Peter’s explanation of how he employs integrated intelligence is incredibly insightful. There are a lot of philosophers and scientists who cover this topic these days, but not so many who actually know how to facilitate the art of the seer, and who have extensive personal experience of using it.

I caught up with Peter a few days ago. In my chat with him you will find out why he threw in a perfectly decent and potentially promising career as neuroscientist, why he believes that Rupert Sheldrake is wrong about morphic fields, and how reading a letter sent ten years into the future changed his life forever.

Please enjoy the show!

Marcus

Peter’s web site:www.socsci.biz

Royalty free music by www.bensound.com.

 

PODCAST TIMELINE

3:57 What is a seer?

4:30 There is a non-ordinary stream of consciousness which seers can tap into.

4:50 The difference between a “psychic” and a “seer.”

5:50 “How did you become interested in these other ways of knowing, given your science background?” Peter tells the remarkable story of how he was inducted as a seer.

6:40 Peter re-tells of a dream he had as a young man, of flying over rolling hills. He immediately recognised the place as Devon, England. He came to this realisation the following evening at a movie. He then had a very strong urge to travel to England.

10:00 While working as a graduate programme in neuroscience, Peter meets a wealthy woman, who helps take him to England.

12:30 Peter quits the programme and flies to England with the woman.

12:50 Peter decides to look up two groups in England which were interested in the psychic domains.

15:40 The psychic medium tells him to “go to the other place.”

18:00 Librarian says she has some interesting notes from a trance medium, Peter refuses.

18:45. Librarian again insists he sees the notes, reads him incredible details of his life.

25:00 She offers to train him.

26:10 Example of Alice (his teacher) reading his and another woman’s mind. (Good example of mind reading).

27:10 There are two streams of perception. Inwards and outwards.

28:50 Difficulty in social adjustment, offending people. Alice taught him.

31:00 Peter had to learn to keep quiet, and avoid scaring others with his perception.

31:00 While appearing on a German TV show Peter accidentally shocks a contestant by revealing facts about his brother’s suicide.

39:30 He had to learn how to properly articulate what he saw in others as a seer.

40:30 The nature of fields, biofields. These are not the four known fields of nature.

42:40. You have to learn to feel the field. Only a higher order system can detect the field, e.g. a human being.

44:40 Fields define living things. We impregnate things with our fields, such as a place where a person dies violently.

47:40 Peter critiques Rupert Sheldrake’s morphogenic fields. e.g. How a fertilised egg becomes a blastula, does not require fields.

53:00 Why Deepak Chopra is on the wrong track.

54:00 What I’m interested is the psychology of attention. I’m not interested in training psychics.

54:30 Discussion about attention. Fixed attention vs expanded perception.

Why fluid attention is very important.

59:50 This is very useful for any people in problem solving fields.

1:03:00 Our society teaches us to pay attention to certain things, esp competition, making money and so on.

1.04:30 Education. We don’t train for attention. Students are shaped. High achievers are usually highly fixed. But this is useful for certain things.

1:05:40 Steve Jobs and his fixed perception

1:07:30 Peter recounts his Albert Einstein dream, and how it influenced him to question whether special relativity theory is theory of perception?

1:11:30. Why theorising is arrogant,

1:14:40 Peter states that we can never really know the world. That’s outside of human knowing. He interested in engaging experience deeply.

1:17:10 Is there an evolutionary process with consciousness?

1:18:10 “What is the benefit for humanity in developing our capacity for seeing?

Is Following Your Passion Dangerous? (2)

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In a recent post I reviewed Cal Newport’s excellent book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You. Newport adopts a well-researched, “rational” approach to the issue. His main findings are that:

• It is foolish to dash headlong into a new career without first establishing career capital (skills, knowledge and connections).
• Innate passions which can be transferred into paid work are rare and it is better to experiment with life to find work you can become passionate about.
• If you cannot see any pre-existing people being paid for your “passion”, don’t try to turn it into work.
• By developing rare and valuable skills, a person’s work will be in demand.
• It is necessary to use deliberate practice to develop such high-level skills in your area of work. This may not be fun at all, and mastery typically takes some 10 000 hours of practice.
• A person needs to develop a mission which helps them focus their work into a precise area, and to avoid scattering one’s energy.
• Patience is required. It takes time and a great deal of work to become great at something.
• Newport heavily criticises the popular self-help-book suggestion that the most important step in developing blissful work is having the courage to quit your job and begin your new, passionate career. This is foolish and likely to lead to failure and rejection if it is done before a person has established career capital in his new field.
These are all common sense, and very useful insights.

However, having mentioned so many positives in that previous post, let me now move onto several reservations I have about Newport’s approach to finding passionate, meaningful work.

Spinning the cherries
Newport cherry picks his case studies. The fact that he does not offer a single exceptional case – one that contradicts his thesis – suggests that his conclusions may be exaggerated. He also appears to “spin” these cases to ensure that they support his argument, highlighting those aspects which are affirmative, but explaining away those things which might potentially contravene his line of argumentation.

For example, he dismisses the case of Steve Jobs – whose Stanford graduation speech on following one’s passion has twenty million hits on YouTube – as evidence for the passion hypothesis. Newport points out that in his youth Jobs studied literature, physics and history at Reed College, a liberal Arts school, and not business or electronics. Jobs was also passionate about spirituality, consciousness expansion and Eastern mysticism. If he’d followed his own advice, writes Newport, Jobs would have become a zen teacher. Newport says that all the Jobs’ biography proves is that it’s good to be passionate about what you do.

But is this really a fair assessment of Jobs’ innate passions?

Newport appears to be playing a semantic game here. Can Newport’s term “electronics” really encapsulate the passion of Steve Jobs? And is not “business” what most self-starters do to turn anything into a successful career? Perhaps terms like “creative inspiration” or “design” are more appropriate descriptions for the innate passions of Steve Jobs. His work at Apple would then seem like an apt fit. And clearly Jobs felt he was living his passion. This is not something that can be so easily dismissed.

In my own life I have found that my passion centres around my work as a writer and explorer of consciousness and spirituality. I certainly didn’t know this when I was twenty. In fact, I never had any genuine spiritual understanding till I was about twenty-six – I was actually a sceptic before that time. I studied English and History at University and loved sport as a kid. Thus it may appear to an outsider that my life affirms Newport’s thesis.

But the truth is that I was always deeply introspective. I just needed life experience to bring that out. So in a sense Newport is both right and wrong. It did require the travails of life for me to discover my calling. But I do not feel that this passion was created by my life experience: that passion was always extant. It was a mere potential.

Therefore I am not in full agreement with Newport that we may as well stick a list of ten appealing pastimes on a wall and throw a dart at them to choose which one to explore as a great career (as he states on a Youtube video). I believe that we must also develop an inner wisdom, and use that intuitive intelligence to help us develop our calling in cooperation with life.

Another problematic case study brought forward by Newport involves the story of Ryan and Sarah’s highly successful organic farm at Red Fire, Grandby. Ryan is a former banker who quit his job to set up the farm. According to Newport, Ryan stumbled into his new profession – he literally “grew into it.” However, this is not a logical assessment. From Newport’s description of Ryan, it appears the man always had an innate enthusiasm for working in nature. The fact that he followed a path consistent with his inner world is therefore indication enough that he had a passion for it.

Such problematic interpretations are one of the key limitations of Newport’s thesis, as he regularly twists passion-positive case studies to ensure that the passion hypothesis is nullified.

To be more specific, Newport dismisses the idea of “passion” in relation to Ryan’s work because there were a series of steps over many years as Ryan discovered his “calling.” Such passion only ever develops over time, insists the author. Yet my sense is that Newport is playing word games again when he implies that any unfolding process that is not instantaneous cannot be called “passionate” in the same way that an innate enthusiasm can be.

Obviously it is true that a person’s life process can help reveal his deep passions, as has been true in my own life. Yet it is not simply the case that such passions are conditioned by the life process, which is what Newport suggests. Newport’s thesis is thus sometimes too black and white, adopting an unnecessarily strict dichotomy between careers sustained by passion versus those developed via craftsmanship.

Nonetheless, Newport’s statement that an individual has to acquire significant skills and career capital to succeed in new career directions remains very valid – and Ryan did just this over many years.

Out with introspection
Another significant shortcoming of Newport’s book is that he appears to have little practical understanding of introspection or human intuition. He is a successful university professor, and so his education has clearly valorised “rational” and scientific ways of knowing. He tends to dismiss personal insight and human intuition, often with subtle contempt or even ridicule.

A good example occurs very early in the book, when Newport begins with story of Thomas, a zen practitioner with a master’s degree in comparative religion.

In interview, Newport relates that Thomas, is reluctant to communicate the meaning of a specific zen koan. Newport gets around this by googling the koan. He then essentially treats it with contempt, apparently failing to consider the possibility that the Zen masters might be correct in suggesting that most people would have trouble truly understanding it with a standard analytical approach.

It is here that Newport is at his weakest. Sometimes he mirrors the arrogance of modern scientific “skepticism”, apparently believing that he does not need to undergo any introspective education or training in order to develop greater depth of intuitive perception. This attitude is epitomised when he announces that he has “debunked” the passion hypothesis. He contemptuously denounces the idea as an “occupational fairy tale.”

Newport appears to be on a kind of semi-religious quest to ensure that the passion hypothesis is killed off. Personally, I do not believe that things need to be taken that far.

Further, Newport does not entertain the possibility that science may be limited when it comes to understanding passion and innate human drive. A common criticism of modern brain science is that it is delimited. Empiricism and third-person approaches to dealing with human intention or consciousness cannot really get inside a person’s head. They can only map the correlates of consciousness. In short, science is incapable of truly understanding the spiritual dimensions of life.

To find the answers to the questions he asks, Newport consults academic journals and avoids introspective domains. Is it any surprise then that he completely dismisses and sometimes ridicules passion and introspection? Newport’s argument ultimately becomes circular. Introspection is inadequate, therefore introspection will be avoided as a means of insight into the problem of insight.

Is this shortcoming simply a lack of introspective intelligence on Newport’s behalf?

Fine distinctions
Newport’s analysis does not distinguish between passion and intuitive intelligence – what some might call spiritual guidance. Likewise, the Canadian college students who were surveyed about their “passions” were likely not introspective types in general, being mainstream-educated. The survey, and Newport, fails to discern the difference between the excitement of personal interests and the “excitement” which emerges from an inner sense of guidance.

There is no evidence in the book, nor in the public presentations that I have seen, that Newport has a well-developed inner world. Newport’s world is apparently random and the individual is soul agent of his life. Yet there are inner and mystical journeys where inner voice is crucial. The failure to address this is a prime shortcoming of Newport’s book. He seems to deny all inner guidance, seemingly completely ignorant of its existence. Founding his work only on science, it remains delimited by its boundaries. Modern science has actively denied intuition and introspection for centuries, and Newport unquestioningly follows in its footsteps.

My sense is that both the strengths and limitations of Newport’s book stem from his being an academic. He does a wonderful job in drawing attention to the pitfalls of blindly following your bliss. But he is singularly incapable of comprehending the subtleties of the inner intelligence of the wisdom traditions. By limiting his approach to academic analysis of research papers and personal case studies, Newport effectively silences many of the wisest men and women of history. Thus So Good They Can’t Ignore You remains very good, but limited; just as Newtonian physics was a wonderful approximation of an observable universe, but woefully inadequate once finer cosmic truths had been gleaned.

Excellent but flawed
So Good They Can’t Ignore You is an excellent book. I will be recommending this book to my own clients (I advise people on how to activate a broader range of human intelligence in developing an ideal life – especially intuitive intelligence). The book systematically addresses many of the common pitfalls that “life of passion” advocates experience (including my own). Given that these are very rarely addressed in self-help and new age philosophies, Newport’s book is an invaluable addition to those wishing to develop such a lifestyle. It’s conclusions remain strong, based as they are on science and relevant case studies. However, I would encourage readers to be mindful of Newport’s personal biases and limited understanding of introspection and human intuition.

Newport’s “complete rejection” of the passion hypothesis is understandable given his worldview, but nonetheless premature. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Is looking into the shadow necessary?

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Today’s question for the Five Minute Mystic comes from Penny. This is a very important query. Why should anyone do shadow work, and is it really worth all the effort? In this video I address the pros and cons of delving into the murky depths of the human psyche. Penny’s question is below.

I have divided this into two videos. In this video, below, I address the idea of the “shadow” in its standard form as meaning the human psyche. In the second video here, I move the discussion onto the question of “darkness” as a consciousness field – is evil really a “force”?

Marcus

 

Dear Marcus,

I’m reading your The Mind Reader book right now, about half way through, and loving it but it is also difficult for me because there is a lot of darkness in myself and so the book is rather disturbing. I know that I have a lot of hard work to do and I hope I will have enough courage. It is a good book to read as a companion to your Discover Your Soul Template. You sure have had an amazing life and I thank you for sharing it with us. I’ve also found your videos on youtube and they are so very helpful too. And I like your sense of humor.

Penny

The True Cost of Living Your Bliss (2)

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(Cartoon image by Paul MacLeod)

In my previous post I wrote of my own difficult experience in making my way in the world using spiritual principles. I am an educator, futurist, writer and speaker whose passion is for Deep Futures – futures where the technological and economic is more evenly balanced with the deeper spiritual aspects of human existence.

In that article I wrote of how, in the years after I begun my own spiritual journey, I had more than a decade of largely positive outcomes and experiences. But this was followed by several difficult years where I struggled, primarily at a professional level. During the “good” years I found work easily, almost effortlessly gained a PhD, successfully published books, academic papers and articles. Money flowed to me easily.

Then, during the difficult years I experienced a lot of professional rejection, mostly from mainstream educational institutions. I found that all my work and passion for Deep Futures had rendered me almost unemployable in mainstream institutions. To be honest, after years of things going well, I wasn’t psychologically prepared for the challenge of being effectively unemployed. I was not quite homeless and penniless, but was forced to rent a single room and my income stream withered away to barely a trickle.

I also separated from my wife during this time, and my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. So it was a great challenge to my sense of self and to my relationship with life and the universe. At times I became depressed and angry. It was difficult not to think that the future was bleak, and that all my years of hard work and creativity had come to nothing.

However there is no such thing as failure as long as you learn from it, or so the success gurus say. And I have certainly leaned a great deal from this period in my life. Most of all I learned of some of the unconscious errors that people who undertake a consciously spiritual life can make. And I am going to share them with you here. My hope is that you can be aware of these common pitfalls that spiritually-inclined professionals often make, and take positive action if you see any of these limitations appearing on your own journey.

Distinctions

The key distinction I have come to clearly acknowledge is this.

Just because you follow your bliss it does not guarantee you worldly success.

This is a bit of an affront to the Romantic notions of Thoreau and the new age movement, but I have concluded that it is true. Note that I did not say that success is not possible, nor even likely. I simply said that there is no guarantee.

Think about it. If worldly success inevitably follows passion, then almost every musician, artist and writer on the planet would be an international success, because the vast majority follow their heart’s calling.

A related point is that many spiritual seekers carry with them a barely-conscious delusion that “God” will reward them professionally and financially for doing “God’s work” (which they of course, define for themselves). They might even think God will grant them special dispensation for making personal sacrifices or experiencing suffering upon their journey. Sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t work that way.

I know that in many churches and also in the movies suffering is given great value. But it has no intrinsic reward. “God” doesn’t care if you suffer! That ought to be obvious if you look at the enormous amount of suffering in the world. So if I were you I’d ditch this idea and start having a good old time of it.

Here is my second distinction.

Just because you develop psychologically and spiritually does not mean that financial and professional success will automatically follow.

For many naïve new agers and spiritual seekers there is an unconscious expectation that this will be so; and many of them get angry at God when personal success does not follow right after they became more mindful, peaceful, intuitive or whatever. Let me be clear on this. There is no guarantee one will follow now other! Spiritual maturity is not necessarily related to professional and business success. If this was the case the local Taoist monk would be a billionaire, and Donald Trump would be a homeless beggar.

Spiritual development and spiritual maturity should be valued for what they are intrinsically, not for what leverage they can grant you in the marketplace. The new age tends to conflate financial and spiritual intelligence, as do some Christian and esoteric traditions right across the world. This mindset tends to include a great deal of magical thinking – just believe it enough and it will happen.

The greatest value of spiritual development is that it awakens a new relationship with the mind, and with the world. It is a journey of love and compassion.

It is not a journey of cash. Well, not necessarily.

When naïve spiritual folks experience failure and rejection, they often take it very personally. (This is what I did, too – for a time.) They think that they didn’t believe in their dream enough to make it happen. They typically believe that they are being punished by God. They may even believe that they have become a spiritual failure. The self-talk goes something like this.

“I must have done something wrong.”

“I haven’t been spiritual enough.”

“I didn’t believe enough.”

“I didn’t clear my blocks.”

“I didn’t get rid of doubt and fear.”

In short the message they send to themselves is: “There’s something wrong with me!”

I have another take on things. Consider this another key distinction.

“God” doesn’t give a toss about your bank account or career standing.

Life rarely goes as planned. Nor does it always attune itself to our conscious expectations. As I have written elsewhere, I do believe that there is some general truth to the idea of the law of attraction. Life does generally reflect back to you your deepest beliefs and attitudes. But this is not the same thing as saying that you can always control what happens simply by focussing upon it.

We are all embedded within a greater cosmic story. We need to accept that there are many external influences upon our lives. These include social systems, cultural expectations, consciousness fields and perhaps even the very will of God itself. This is why it is important to allow yourself to mindfully acknowledge the eddies and currents of life, and to align with those currents without taking it personally. And if you go against those currents? If you judge and condemn and blame and complain? Well, by definition, there will be resistance. And when the mind resists, there will be suffering.

I am not saying that you should not challenge systems or embedded energy structures. Many of the great minds in history did just that. Sometimes it is actually necessary to do so. Steve Jobs, Einstein and Rupert Sheldrake are just three admirable figures who have challenged “the system”. Each was/is very successful; but each has had to endure some systemic persecution in order to achieve that success.

This brings me to my final distinction;

There is a price to pay for working outside the accepted worldview of dominant society. You have to be prepared for the possibility that worldly success and acceptance may not come your way. Almost certainly, such acceptance will be denied you many times and in many situations – even if you are personally and professionally successful in the long run.

So choose your battles wisely.

Listen to your intuition before embarking upon on a great conquest. Listen to your inner voice at all steps along the way, too, as it is easy to go astray. Correct your course where necessary.

Failure is often temporary, and it pays to keep in mind that the end of one story often opens up a new story. And it is often only when the new story emerges that we realise that the old story was no longer serving us. So when one story is ending, don’t hold onto it beyond its used-by-date. Don’t invest it with meaning beyond what it deserves. Judgments such as “I am a failure”, “That’s the end of everything for me!” and “I blew my chance” only lock you into the past and prevent a new story opening up.

Let it die.

Perhaps the most powerful thing I have learned so far upon my journey is how to be present to life. Presence grants the capacity to align your mind with the truth of life – not resist it. And the truth of life is whatever lies before you in the moment. If a person can ground themselves in the wonder and beauty of presence, then personal successes and failures do not have much power over him or her. The moment is where the grace of God is found, and the moment can never abandon us. It is only we who abandon the moment – through judgment. It is only we who abandon God.

Follow your excitement, but learn from your mistakes. Acknowledge your weaknesses and shortcomings. Be grateful to life for showing you these, even if the lessons are sometimes tough!

Most of all, be here now.

If you do this, your falls will be shorter in duration and less painful. Most of all you will grow in grace and wisdom.

Such an attitude is enriching. But even all this is not enough wisdom if you want to move out into the world and play games in society and in the market place. You need a little practical know-how. And that will be the subject of my third and final instalment in this little series about the price of spiritual engagement in the world.

Blessings,

Marcus

 

 

The True Cost of Living Your Bliss (1)

So you want to dive in at the deep end and get into this alternative philosophy business? And by “business”, I do mean business. Perhaps you have had a few personal experiences which have led you to deeply question the way dominant science and education represent the human condition. You might have had a spiritual experience or an intuitive foretaste of something extraordinary – a glimpse of what have been labelled the “supernatural” or “paranormal”. After such revelations the wise words of the American transcendentalists and Eastern mystics have no doubt been jumping out at you from behind metaphysical corners that you didn’t even know were there.

It could be that things have begun to gather momentum for you – not so much like a giant snow ball rolling downhill, but a great wave of mystical light cascading from the heavens. Reading a few books about things like “spiritual business” and “the law of attraction” may have begun to stir creative juices within your mind. You could be forgiven for starting to think of the possibilities. What if I put all that spiritual knowledge into this idea??

So now you are all set to go, full of excitement at the journey ahead – as a writer, public speaker, social media expert, researcher, healer, entrepreneur… Those famous words of perhaps the greatest of the American transcendentalists, Henry David Thoreau, never felt truer.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

So it all looks pretty good from your current perspective, doesn’t it? Success seems almost divinely guaranteed. But before you step off onto the road less traveled, before you take that first step on the journey of ten thousand steps, you might like to consider the price.

“The price?”, you say. “What price? Everything’s cool!”

Please allow me to backtrack a little. Let me give you some advice from a traveller of both mystical and worldly waters. Permit me to return to where it all began for me…

Twenty years ago I made the big decision to resign from my job as a secondary school teacher in Warren, a tiny, remote town in western New South Wales, Australia. I had had enough of the mundane world of chalk and talk. My decision had been initiated a few months earlier when I had stumbled across Wayne Dyer’s new age tome You’ll See It When You Believe It in the local newsagent. Reading that book gave me the courage to quit. So I packed my stuff into my car and headed for greener shores – quite literally. I landed in Coffs Harbour, a nice little town on the north coast of the same state. As I outline in my book Discover Your Soul Template, my newly acquired mystical proclivities then led me to join a meditation group fronted by Lesley Halverson, a middle-aged woman with some obvious intuitive gifts. One evening after her meditation class had wound down, Lesley announced that she had dreamed of UFOs the previous night; and based upon that dream she predicted that UFOs would be observable at around 2.00 am that night. Although it seemed preposterous to me that anyone could predict such a thing based upon a dream, I challenged myself to get up at that ungodly hour and take a look around.

My naive mystical worldview was well rewarded, for that cool and starry winter’s morning I witnessed two very different UFO phenomena – one a great ball of shimmering light that glided silently across the sky, and the other a flotilla of disc-like objects which flew over my head at a distance of a few hundred metres.

You can imagine how this event forever changed the way I viewed life, science and education. No longer could I buy the dominant western worldview which depicts human beings as biological meat machines trapped without meaning and purpose in a mechanistic universe. Nor could I continue to commit to a nine-to-five mundane existence in my home country. Instead I embarked on a long journey of self-discovery that saw me live and work in five different countries. It also included exploring exhaustive spiritual disciplines and emotional healing that necessitated enormous courage and commitment.

Throughout this period I explored the mystical and spiritual realms via meditative and mindful practice, shifting my new worldview from a “belief” into lived experience. My innate intuitive abilities expanded and I developed cognitive capacities that had believed to be science fiction only a few years prior to that. I found that I could sense the future, channel creative energy, interact with spiritual dimensions and tap into consciousness fields of both individuals and groups.

During this time I did not ignore the more “rational” side of human experience. Eventually I earned a PhD, developing the concept of “integrated intelligence” – the idea that the human mind is not limited in space and time, and can draw upon non-local information. In my thesis I argued that consciousness is not confined to the brain, nor even to physical systems. Thus the notion of integrated intelligence was developed from both personal experience and formal research.

I kept working in mainstream education to pay the bills, even as I developed my esoteric and intuitive proclivities. Eventually I established a niche for myself as a researcher, writer and speaker. I became the futurist with a passion for Deep Futures, speaking and writing about how an unnecessarily delimited model of cosmos and consciousness was retarding human social and spiritual development. I published widely in magazines, newspapers and journals and successfully published my doctoral thesis. I was elated when I also got my first mainstream book contract.

Some fifteen years passed between the time I left my first teaching job until I published Discover Your Soul Template. In many ways it was a time of incredible excitement. I was following Thoreau’s advice and pursuing my dream. Success seemed to come easily. As I travelled from country to country I managed to earn a very good income, taking jobs that were high-paying but undemanding. This is what allowed me to pursue my doctorate and to write and present at academic conferences and in public domain.

It is not that there were no challenges during this period. Perhaps the greatest was acknowledging that I carried a huge amount of pain and self-limiting belief structures within my psyche. Working with that energy was often excruciatingly difficult. But overall I can say that everything fell together in what seemed to be divine perfection. As my wife noted, things just kept getting better and better.

Perhaps it was that this success had created a little naivety within me. I had conveniently forgotten something that Lesley Halverson had told me all those years ago when I had attended her mediation group. For one day she had passed on a message to me “from spirit”. It was the most simple communication imaginable.

“Remember that there is a price to pay for everything,” she had said.

That was it. The words had been spoken seemingly out of the blue in the middle of a meditation class. They were directed specifically at me. I suspect Lesley has probably forgotten about those words, but somehow they lingered in the back of my mind.

It took me many years to appreciate what they mean. I’m a slow learner.

So let me get back to my story. I haven’t quite finished yet.

It was only after I completed my PhD that I began to experience setbacks in my professional and personal life. The first and obvious problem was that my impassioned focus upon researching and writing about the spiritual and mystical had become a roadblock to my academic and public career. No university or academic institution would touch me. I got hundreds of rejections. I looked on with an increasingly despairing gaze as I saw some of my futurist colleagues (who did their doctorates in more mainstream fields) snap up university jobs with little or no effort. My papers were rejected at many academic conferences; and when I attended such conferences at my own expense, I often saw rather robotic and soulless presentations by professors who were just going through the motions of the academic system. I sat there thinking, “I know I could do a much better presentation than this!”

It was frustrating. It was disheartening. I felt angry and abandoned by the system.

When I returned to Australia from Asia things got even worse. Not only was I getting rejected by the universities; suddenly even public high schools would not hire me. My CV was a confusing mishmash of mundane public school teaching combined with extensive, self-funded academic qualifications and publications. I recall one interviewer looking at me with a rather puzzled expression. “It seems like you have even living two very different lives,” he said. I laughed. But the smile soon faded when he turned me away.

I experimented with different approaches. I submitted CVs leaving off all forty or so of my academic publications and erasing the PhD. But that just made me look like a middle-aged school teacher who had been too lazy to invest in career development for the previous twenty years.

The low point came when I had used up all my savings, and could no longer even afford to rent a house. While I was receiving an income stream from books and publications, it was nowhere near enough to live on. My wife and I were forced to move into a single room, sharing a house with three others.

I had to make a choice. Would I give up all that I had invested in my soul journey? Would I recommit to a mundane life of nine to five?

I’ll let you know what happened in the second part of this article, and I’ll also share with you some of the key distinctions I have taken from my setbacks.

Marcus

Gurerilla War, Unfair (Part 3 – Engaged Presence)

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This is the third part of three posts I am writing about this topical issue.

In the first post I described the problem regarding the presence of hard-core skeptics group Guerrilla Skeptics, and their undue control of Wikipedia pages related to spiritual and psi phenomena.

In the second post I outlined three different approaches to the problem, and the merits of each. I also wrote why certain approaches are likely to be counterproductive – and potentially spiritually regressive. I introduced the idea of gentle engagement.

In this final post I will describe the practical application of engaged presence – which can be employed in any kind of debate or discourse, both online and in real world situations. I also suggest how “conflicts” can be of great benefit to anybody on a path of awakening.

 

Engaged presence

Engaged presence is simple. It is a process which involves attending to debates, online discussions and personal differences while remaining present and mindful. You can also use it in public talks, meetings, and media interviews. It enables you to access the analytical and intellectual mind while also retaining the equanimity of mindful presence. The greatest benefit of this approach to intellectual discourse is that it prevents you from getting lost in petty squabbles – the kind that tend to dominate public discourse, especially online.

You can employ engaged presence in any kind of debate or “argument” with someone. Of course, engaged presence does not feel anything like what you might think of as an “argument”. Arguments are confrontational in nature. Engaged presence is light. It is not a matter of life and death, which is how most intellectual confrontations feel – because the mind is so attached to the outcome.

For example, should anyone be foolish enough to take up the challenge of attempting to challenge the Guerrilla Skeptics on Rupert Sheldrake’s Wikipedia page, they could use engaged presence to minimise the level of insanity that might be expected to overcome any normal human being undertaking such a task.

Engaged presence does not require any pronounced altered state of consciousness. It is true that it involves a relaxed state of mindful presence, but this is not much different from, say, having a relaxed chat with a friend in the evening.

In short, the key difference between engaged presence and normal intellectual discourse is that the individual has a greater level of mindfulness – and indeed, playfulness. They maintain an awareness of the mind (or ego) even as they engage the other person.

In practice

This is very, very simple, no? It is unnecessary to complicate this.

1. Bring yourself present

In the minutes or moments before you are about to engage the other person (in a real world situation or via electronic media) bring yourself fully present. Sit or stand quietly. Take note of your breath moving in and out of your chest. Feel yourself fully in your body. Relax as you bring your attention to your breath, releasing any tension you might feel. With any thoughts that come into your mind, simply observe them, and then gently return your attention to your breath. Do this for five breaths, and you should then be present in the moment.

Alternatively, bring your awareness on to something that is physically with you. Anything will do – a cup, a chair, the desk before you. Allow your mind to become fully present with the object. Just gently observe it for thirty seconds. Again, if any thoughts come into your mind, just observe them, and then return your attention to the thing which you are observing.

2. Agenda awareness (optional)

For those who are proficient at working with the shadow or who have previous experience with meditative processes which involve introspection and self-reflection, you can add a few moments of “agenda awareness”. If you are proficient at bringing yourself into mindful presence you will automatically be able to sense any barely conscious or overt agendas you have regarding the people or situation you are about to engage.

The first part of agenda awareness is to take note of any emotions you feel within yourself, both those projected at the people you are engaging, and at yourself. Pay careful consideration of any aggressive feelings you have towards the people you are engaging. Common projections to note are thoughts and feelings such as the following

“You are an idiot! You don’t know anything!”

“I know best. I am smarter than you!”

Take note also of your agendas for power and control over the situation, or in trying ensure a particular outcome.

“I am in control here!”

“I must take control.”

“He must not be allowed to speak!”

“They are going to try to get me! I must strike first!”

Agendas like these are many. Just because they are half-mad doesn’t make them go away!

You can self-dialogue with such agendas if you like. But this takes time, and you may not have time in any given situation – see this summary of specific useful tools). A more efficient way to neutralise agendas is just to confess your agendas to “God”, the universe, or whatever greater intelligence you may perceive (see the fifth tool). If you are not spiritually inclined, just confess them to the chair or the pot plant if you like. The key is to fully admit the agenda. Remember, this is a non-judgmental process. You are not beating yourself up or finding that you are “bad”. In fact just laugh or smile. You are only human!

3. Engage mindfully

As you sit with the other person, or engage with them via image or word on a computer screen, keep mindful presence by regularly focussing upon your breath, body, or something solid within the room. Observe your own judgments, feelings and thoughts mindfully.

If during your engagement you find yourself being dragged into the mind, reacting with anger and judgment, pull back silently from the other. Bring yourself present again by focussing upon a single breath or something within the room. Observe the feelings of anger and judgment within you. Don’t believe in them and don’t make them the other person’s fault. They are your projections. If you do this, your projections will lose their power over you.

Give yourself permission to smile and laugh. Be light.

4. Disengage

As you leave the engagement, bring yourself to mindful attention again. Note any judgments, feelings or agendas that linger. Allow yourself to surrender to the outcome, whatever it may be. Let go.

It is easy to know if you have successfully employed engaged presence. You feel relaxed and possibly joyful. You feel at peace. If you feel angry, resentful or annoyed at those whom you have just engaged, then you have failed to employ the process successfully.

Agendas of mind

Note: Here the term “agenda” refers to subtle intentions of power and control over the other person or situation. It does not refer to any conscious intention you may have in the engagement, e.g. wanting to correct misrepresentations of Rupert Sheldrake on his Wikipedia page.

Having worked on being mindfully present for many years, I have come to observe several common agendas that tend to arise when people are confronting others, and when they are battling for control of ideas. It might pay you to reflect on these. Being able to catch the mind when it develops agendas is very useful if you want to practice engaged presence. As long as you have an agenda, you are not fully present. You are bringing some past hurt to the table, or some intention or motivation about the future. It is not possible to listen deeply if this is the case.

I call the modern, preferred way of fighting others for control of ideas “confrontational binaries”. The following agendas are commonly experienced during such engagements.

1). The mind is very serious. The mind sees the maintenance of its own worldview as a kind of life and death struggle. With engaged presence you relax in the knowledge that beliefs and ideas are ephemeral. Engaged presence is light and playful.

2) Attachment to one’s beliefs and opinions. In engaged presence you acknowledge mental attachments, and gently release them.

3). Identification with ones beliefs and opinions. The mind typically has trouble distinguishing itself from its own thoughts. In engaged presence, the individual is familiar with a deeper level of awareness beyond thought. This means that you are not so identified with the content of thought.

4). There is an incessant need to be right. The mind is often like a dog at a bone, and just won’t let go. In engaged presence you let go and allow the process to unfold (but are still mindful of what you understand – and believe to be true).

5). The mind sees the other as a threat. There is fear and anger. This is not as irrational as you might think, because in confrontational binaries the other person is also engaged in judgment, and the barely conscious agenda is to overpower and destroy you and your opinion. Debate and argument are inherently violent mental processes. In engaged presence you are mindful of this tendency to strike out at the other. In presence you see the other at a deeper level, beyond the opinions and arguments they are presenting.

6) The mind seeks approval from observers and opponents. In states of presence the need for approval diminishes.

7) The mind is attached to the outcome of the discussion. In engaged presence you release the outcome.

8) There is an agenda for power and control over your opponent, or in regard to the purpose of the discussion, how you are perceived etc. In engaged presence you gently acknowledge any need for power and control.

9) Typically, there is an attempt to be seen as clever – intellectually, morally or spiritually superior. This is often part of an implicit power struggle which attempts to place you above your opponent. Naturally, this tends to create fear and anger in the other person, even when the agenda is unconscious. With engaged presence, one releases the need to be seen as smarter or morally superior to the other person. If you are brilliant, good for you. There is no need to turn this into a game of “I am better.”

How is it possible to be mindful of all this in any given situation? It would be very difficult indeed if you had to consciously focus on all of these factors simultaneously. But in practice that is not actually necessary. These perspectives – and the awareness that goes with them – tend to emerge naturally from the presence that you bring to the situation.

However…

Engaged presence doesn’t excuse you from becoming informed about the subject matter you are discussing. Be careful. The ego might attempt to employ engaged presence with an aloof agenda to remain in control and to avoid being challenged. Nor is the purpose of engaged presence to impress people about how Buddha-like you are. That would be an agenda – and more approval seeking.

Employing engage presence doesn’t mean you will win the debate or argument. Sorry, but you might lose the debate! Observers might decide that your opponent’s arguments or opinions are stronger. People might retain their prejudices and biases.

Nor does gentle engagement guarantee systemic change – at least not in the short run. In the situation with Guerrilla Skeptics, Craig Weiler has blogged about his frustration at trying to fairly edit Rupert Sheldrake’s Wikipedia page when the editors appear to be heavily favouring skeptical input. If a person were to employ engaged presence in trying to balance that discussion, it would not change the Wikipedia system in the short term. However it would grant the person a greater degree of equanimity as he went about his work. It would also allow him to relax and be mindful of his own agendas, and what lies behind them (there is often trauma and anger behind our personal agendas).

Of course in the long run our imaginary Wikipedia editor might slowly influence the discourse on that site, and he would be able to keep his wits about him as he did so.

Nor does engaged presence guarantee that others will not conspire in a power game against you (which sometimes happens online, in the media or in public meetings and interviews). But it does pull your ego out of the game. This tends to disengage the other person’s ego, helping them to relax. They will feel less threatened by you, and logically they will feel less need to eliminate you from further discussions, or exclude you from any power within the given situation.

But again, there is no guarantee. Just be careful that your mind does not set up the agenda that it is owed something merely because it has employed a “superior” means of dialogue – seeking recognition or a God-guaranteed victory. Engaged presence does not guarantee outcomes. It merely permits a specific kind of engagement.

Mastery of mind

Of course, in order to access gentle engagement simply and easily it is best that you understand and are familiar with the experience of presence. If you do not experience presence regularly in your normal life, it is unlikely that you will be able to master engaged presence in a debate. As Leonard Jacobson has so often said, the awakening process requires not just the ability to bring oneself into presence. It also requires mastery of mind (which enables you to stay present at will). And being a master of mind means that you understand yourself well enough to be able to realise how your mind attempts to bring you out of presence and into the world of drama and projection.

There is one final benefit to employing engaged presence which I will share with you. In the state of alert presence you will increasingly notice subtle things about the people you are engaging with. Because you are no longer judging the other person or trying to control them, you will be able to sense the agendas of their minds, including their striving for power and control over you, their attachment to the need to be right, their wanting to be seen as clever and so on. If you are very relaxed, you may also see auras and energy structures about the person, and you might even see glimpses of their soul story. I often sense such things when I am in relaxed presence with others.

The wise man or woman will not use these intuitive insights to affirm an agenda – such as gaining power over the other. In fact, if you are deeply present, compassion and forgiveness arise spontaneously – even for your “opponent”.

I suggest you experiment with engaged presence. You don’t have to be in a formal debate to use it, you can just use it during normal discourse with someone you know or love.

Go ahead. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Blessings,

Marcus

Guerrilla War, Unfair (part 1)

killzone_shadow_fall_021

 

This is the first part of a three posts I am writing about this topical issue.

 In this post I will introduce the problem.

  • In the second post I will make some general points about what should be done, and why. I will also write why certain approaches are likely to be counterproductive – and potentially spiritually regressive.
  • In the final post I will provide some more practical tools and strategies, and suggest how this entire situation can be of great benefit to anybody on a path of awakening.

 

There’s a story doing the rounds amongst the pro-psi crowd at present (The pro-psi folks are those who take the affirmative side in the debate about the existence of psi phenomena such as ESP, telepathy and clairvoyance – I include myself in that group). The story involves the recent activities of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia group. The guerrilla skeptics are a well-organised group of self-appointed online vigilantes whose prime mission is to attack and discredit all claims of the validity regarding spiritual, intuitive and alternative truth claims (including alternative and complementary medicine).

The notable issue with the guerrilla skeptics is the revelation that they have taken to Wikipedia in an to attempt to discredit wiki pages that they find contradict their way of seeing the universe. Robert McLuhan wrote a good account of the problem on his paranormalia blog about six months ago. Rupert Sheldrake and Craig Weiler, who have discussed the problem together, have recently written about the issue.

Sheldake is a favourite target of hard-core skeptics in general, and his Wikipedia page is one that has been targeted by the Guerrilla Skeptics. Here’s what Sheldrake wrote about them in his recent newsletter:

Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia have been subverting Wikipedia in areas concerned with spirituality, psychic phenomena and complementary medicine…  a squad of guerrilla skeptics captured the Wikipedia page about me, and have controlled it… editing it in the most biased possible way. Several other editors have tried to restore a more neutral point of view, in accordance with Wikipedia policies… Wikipedia has strict rules against editors working in groups and against people advocating a particular point of view. The Guerrilla Skeptics have been flouting these rules for more than two years, coordinating their groups through secret Facebook pages. It’s time their activities are brought to a halt, because they are undermining the basic principles of Wikipedia, and rendering hundreds of entries untrustworthy.

Wikipedia is – in theory – publically owned and controlled. It portends to allow free editing of its pages, according to certain protocols. For example, if a credible citation is given, then one can challenge a point made on any given page. In this way alternative viewpoints are posited side-by-side.

As Sheldrake points out, here are guidelines on Wikipedia which are aimed at preventing vested interest groups in targeting pages in order to control and overpower free speech, or deliberately distort the information to suit their own agenda. For example, if a Japanese conservative group attempted to edit the Wikipedia page on the notorious Nanjing Massacre (which was perpetrated by the invading Japanese forces in 1937) and filled it with nonfactual propaganda, it would obviously be considered unacceptable. That would be a case of one group attempting to distort history because it did not have the moral courage to face up to the atrocities that its ancestors perpetrated.

The actions of the Guerrilla Skeptics are not dissimilar to the hypothetical case mentioned above. As Sheldrake writes:

The Guerrilla Skeptics are well trained, highly motivated, have an ideological agenda, and operate in teams… (There are now) over 90 guerrillas operating in 17 different languages. The teams are coordinated through secret Facebook pages. They check the credentials of new recruits to avoid infiltration. Their aim is to “control information”… They have already seized control of many Wikipedia pages, deleted entries on subjects they disapprove of, and boosted the biographies of atheists.

The actions of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia are clearly inappropriate and contravene the site’s regulations. This is given more significance because the Guerrilla Skeptics appear to have connections with militant skeptics organisations like the James Randi Foundation. These are organisations which have a very clear agenda, and vested financial interests in ensuring that certain data and knowledge claims are not permitted free expression. Skeptics have a long history of deliberately distorting and misrepresenting information about psi-phenomena, spiritual experience, and alternative medicine. For example, Richard Wiseman, one of the most influential skeptics, appears to have deliberately misrepresented the positive results he obtained when he attempted to replicate a Sheldrake experiment. This involved an allegedly telepathic dog that seemed to know when its master was coming home, regardless of any sensory cues.

Given the political agenda of militant skeptics groups, they are about as far from being impartial arbiters of truth as is possible to imagine. I am in strong agreement with people like Sheldrake, Weiler and McCluhan that the situation is unacceptable in that it distorts information about a very significant realm of human enquiry. There needs to be a fair and open discussion of these subject matters, free from bullying, personal harassment and misrepresentation of the data.

 

My position

The question that really interests me is this: what is to be done about this deliberate and aggressive attempt by the Guerrilla Skeptics to discredit ideas that contradict their worldview and beliefs? I will address this more clearly in my next post.

But before I sign off for today, let me make my general position on the issue of psi-phenomena, alternative medicine and so on quite clear (for those who have never read any of my work on the subject). After years of intensive first-person introspective investigation, working with some very gifted spiritual teachers, and having written and researched many books, papers and a doctoral thesis on the subject, I am now certain that psi phenomena like ESP, clairvoyance, precognition and so on are genuine. They represent perfectly normal human cognitive capacities, despite the fact that they are not readily on tap for most human beings.

I am hardly a neutral party in this anymore, as I now teach people how to develop what I call integrated intelligence – expanded intuitive perception which engages the extended mind.

It is my conviction that current mainstream psychology and neuroscience are founded on the false presupposition that consciousness in merely a product of neurochemistry. I maintain that consciousness has non-local properties which are essential to understanding the human condition and our place in the universe. Science has made tremendous progress in human understanding and technology since the 1700s, and the benefits are obvious. But we have become obsessed with technology and abstract cognition to the point that we have bought into a false universal story – that human beings are biological machines. I call this the Deckard Confusion, after Harrison Ford’s character in the movie Blade Runner. Deckard wasn’t sure whether he was a man or a robot (in fact it is somewhat ambiguous in Ridley Scott’s director’s cut).

Similarly, contemporary science has become deeply confused about the essential nature of consciousness and the human condition. Science and society have become obsessed with the machine, so much that it now confuses the entire universe for a machine. The mechanistic paradigm which dominates science and much of modern society is a direct result of this. Skeptics organisations and hardcore skeptics in general are thus a product of the modern era, and have bought into the Deckard Confusion at such depth that they have completely lost the capacity to access Integrated Intelligence.

They have lost touch with the human spirit.

The problem is not that science is intrinsically wrong or evil, nor that the so-called left-brained mental functions need to be erased. It’s all a question of addressing the limitations of science, and also of analytical reasoning.

And while the limits of science is often a topic for discussion amongst scientists (who are generally very interested in the topic), the issue is rarely addressed at the required depth within mainstream scientific institutions, and within mainstream education.

In part two of this discussion, I will say a little more about this as I address what can be done about the problem of Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia.

Marcus

Is There a One True Spiritual Path?

mountain

 How many paths up there?

 

The One Right Path?

Most human beings in developed countries and regions of the planet are presented with an opportunity to create a life.

Their life.

Once we are old enough to start asking questions and develop a capacity for critical thinking, there then arises the most fundamental of all queries.

“What path shall I follow?”

Sometimes this might be expressed as: “Whose path shall I follow?”

In countries with high levels of personal freedom, there are innumerable possible journeys and teachings that one might choose to undertake – or perhaps emulate. As we mature and are exposed to books, cinema and other media, most of us discover one or a few people whom we greatly admire or respect. We may think of these people as having lived a noble, powerful or model life.

In the current age there is no shortage of “teachers” professing expertise in the living of the ideal life. Some might be classified as spiritual teachers, others as self-help gurus. Other luminaries might simply have a notable philosophy which they have shared with the world, and their lives and ideas potentially offer wisdom.

We then have people who are set up as role models by our leaders; via education, history books and official media. Who is considered attractive or admirable varies from country to country according to the dominant worldview, values and religious structures. Conservatives in China consider Mao Ze Dong to be the greatest man in history. Yet many people in western countries revile him as a mass-murdering tyrant. In Melbourne where I live, many folks adore AFL footballer Gary Ablett, and see him as an ideal role model. My Chinese wife thinks all Australian footballers are buffoons.

 

Freedom to choose

Some people believe that there is no such thing as free will. If you are one of these people then obviously this discussion is not for you.

My experience has led me to conclude that while a great deal of life and personal expression is either conditioned or out of our control, the essential and most important choices remain open to us (or at least potentially open, if we can bring awareness to those choices). Here I wish to focus on two related queries.

  • Which religious/spiritual/philosophical path shall I follow? (I include scientific materialism as a philosophical choice).
  • What teachers or role models are worth emulating?

Now allow me to emphasise my main point here.

I believe that it is unwise to blindly follow the teaching of another person or philosophy, no matter how wonderful or successful it may seem. The essential reason is that each of us is a little different from the teachers we admire (sometimes very different). This is an obvious point, but it is one that many of us fail to fully acknowledge. It is important that we tailor ourselves a life process or path that is a fit for our own souls.

The idea is not difficult to understand. But there are some distinctions that each of us needs to keep in mind.

 

Which path?

When we are just starting out in life it is perfectly understandable that we choose a particular teaching or teacher, and try to model ourselves upon them.

When I was in my 20s I tried to be like mystic Stuart Wilde. But I discovered that being a visionary was a bit trippy. A bit later on I tried to be like Anthony Robbins. Later I realised that my teeth just weren’t big enough.

In my thirties I applied myself diligently in following the way of a master of presence – Leonard Jacobson. Leonard is a wonderful spiritual teacher. But I am not Leonard, and he is not me.

I’m a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, which probably explains why it took me a few years to work out something incredibly simple in relation to my attempts to apply Leonard’s teachings.

leonardphoto4

Leonard Jacobson

 

Leonard and the river

Leonard’s story is remarkable. In the 1980s he had several spontaneous spiritual awakenings which involved transcendent states of consciousness. There was little or no suffering in this for Leonard. He wasn’t trying to achieve anything spiritual, nor escape anything. In 1981 at a retreat near the Bellingen River in northern New South Wales, he threw himself into the flood-swollen river. When he emerged he discovered that he was in a profound state of non-ordinary consciousness. Everything seemed to contain love and beauty. He was filled with a great sense of gratitude for existence itself.

While such exalted states came and went, Leonard’s experience of divine presence remains to this day.

My own journey has been quite different from Leonard’s. My family background was quite dark, and as a child and young man I was exposed to alcoholism, drug abuse and the literal insanity of several close relatives.

When each of us is born into this world our minds become instantly imbedded in a pool of consciousness – that of our family and caregivers. I was therefore born into a vortex of great darkness.

I left Australia at the age of thirty – in part – to escape that darkness. Not long after I arrived in New Zealand I undertook some intense spiritual training, and in the process became highly clairvoyant. I saw intuitively that my mind was still gravely affected by the mental projections of my relatives. It was truly frightening to see the depth of that darkness, and to have to acknowledge how damaged I’d become as a result of it. The heaviness of dark energy was such that it was often exhausting just to be.

It was the realisation of all this – and the suffering implicit in being trapped in such darkness – that spurred me towards my particular spiritual journey.

As you can see, this is quite a different introduction to “spirituality” than that of Leonard Jacobson. Do not get me wrong. I have come to accept the truth of what Leonard teaches, and I apply much of that to my daily life. Yet there were some things he could not teach me – things that he does not understand (as far as I can tell), because his journey did not traverse the darkness that mine did.

So it was that about twelve years ago I asked Leonard what the best way is to deal with the destructive consciousness fields that were plaguing me. I will not go into details here, but the answer he gave me suggested that he did not understand what I was experiencing; because he had not experienced such things in his own lifetime (at least not at the same depth).

I applied Leonard’s advice. Yet it did not free me from those mental projections. In fact, I eventually learned that I had to do something that no other spiritual teacher I ever met advised me.

I had to learn to fight. To fight the darkness.

Perhaps “fight” is not quite the right word. A better term might be to “stand in my power.” But the intensity of the projections that I experienced had been such that the solution required the embodiment of a warrior energy. There was no way around this, because at a soul level I had come to believe that I was worthless, unlovable and intrinsically “bad”. My soul story was that of “The Sacrifice” – the one who is taunted, haunted and enchained by those of dark intent.

Consciousness fields work like attractor fields in physics. At an energetic level I had become what I believed. I needed to change the story, change the beliefs, and embody a more empowered male energy.

Unfortunately – to continue the physics analogies – systems tend to remain at rest unless they are acted upon. Those with whom I was playing out a karmic story of the victim did not wish to relinquish their power over me. That was where the warrior energy needed to come in. I literally had to scream it out of my base chakra.

To this day I have to keep standing up for myself. Old stories – like old habits – die hard.

Often I have asked God why my mind came to be embedded in such darkness. The pattern appears to transcend a single lifetime. But I have never gotten a definitive answer. It seems to be part of my soul’s journey, something unconsciously “chosen” when I came to believe that I was “bad and worthless”.

My journey is different from Leonard’s and many other peoples.

Your journey is probably quite different from mine.

In the end I realised that I was unique, and that I had to draw from a variety of sources to learn how to deal with the specific soul issues and spiritual challenges I faced.

I also discovered that what works in one phase of life does not always work so well in another phase. I had to learn to modify processes and approaches, and emphasise them to different degrees during different periods of my life.

 

So..;

I suggest that you stop trying to be someone else – whether the person be a contemporary role model of yours, or a teacher who has passed on (Jesus, the Buddha, gandhi etc.). After all, how many of us has had exactly the same soul journey as Jesus? How many can endure the outrageous suffering of Gandhi? How many can afford enough toothpaste to be Anthony Robbins?

The key then is to observe yourself as you travel through life. By all means apply the teachings which you feel are suitable for you. There are many fine and beautiful teachings out there, and many great teachers.

And follow through with the process. Some processes require many years of application, and attitudes and skills often require a lifetime commitment.

You might apply different processes and tools than your friends. And that is perfectly understandable. Remember, your life experience, soul needs and soul story are unique.

Nor should you insist that what works for you will work for others. By all means share your wisdom and experience. But do not try to impose “the one true path” upon anyone else. That is an ego game of power and control.

Most of all, be gentle and forgiving of yourself. Have fun along the way. Be committed, but don’t take it all too seriously. As Anita Moorjani is so fond of saying, you are a magnificent human being who is totally worthy of divine love.

You are not here to be perfect. You are here to be human. You are here to be yourself. And there is nobody else that is quite like you.

So live that, and love it. Joyfully.

 

Marcus

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Live Your Soul Purpose Workshop, August 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who are in the Melbourne area, I am running the following workshop very soon at the Enkindle Wellness Centre, in Gisborne. The first workshop in North Melbourne was a great success, and we already have a list of people who have signed up for the second.

Here are the details for the workshop.

All the best,

Marcus

 

Live Your Soul Purpose

A workshop with Marcus T Anthony, PhD

 

Each of us carries within us a soul template which has encoded upon it all the information and wisdom you need to live your life to your highest purpose. Based on Marcus’ book Discover Your Soul Template, this practical and hands-on workshop has the specific purpose of providing you with all the tools and understandings you need to find and live your calling.

 

In Live Your Soul Purpose you may discover:

  • What your soul calling is, and how to begin to turn it into a worldly reality.
  • How to develop profound intuition, unbounded by space and time.
  • The essential Soul Issues which you are here to address.
  • How to use the power of presence to align each moment and day with your highest good.
  • How to release the me-centred mindset which lies at the heart of so much human suffering.
  • How to develop the right relationship with ego.
  • How to live, love, work and play in the world of time with joy and spontaneity, and without getting lost in the ego.

 

Time: Sunday August 18th 2013, 12.00 midday till 5.00 pm.

Location: Enkindle Wellness, 55 Heather Rd, Gisborne (north-west of Melbourne).

Cost: AUS$90 per person (early bird AUS$80, by July 6th, concession available). Includes a free copy of Discover Your Soul Template, valued at $25 in bookstores. For more information go to www.enkindlecommunity.com.au/workshops and click on the link. You can bring a second person along for $49, and every person after that for only $33. (Of course each person can share that total equally e.g. three people = $172 /3)

Contact: email: marcus@marcustanthony.com, mobile: 0403 526 001.

Note, if you prefer, you can also pay directly through my bank account:

Acct name: Marcus Anthony

Acct No: 14-361-8385

BSB: 083-785

Swift code: NAT AAU 3303M

Bank Address:

National Australia Bank, Greensborough, VIC, Australia.

Level 1, 49-51 Main Street, Greensborough, VIC, 3088, Australia

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Why I rejected the chance for a six-figure income

Why I rejected the chance for a six-figure income: Diary of a 21st Century Mystic #14

 

Many of you reading this will be aware that I write a lot about both mindfulness and how to develop spiritual intuition – what I call Integrated Intelligence. In fact this is the main subject of my most successful book, Discover Your Soul Template. But sometimes even I struggle to apply my own understandings successfully in my life. Some decisions we have to make are of such importance that the mind (“ego”, if you prefer) can play havoc with the decision-making process. This is precisely what happened to me this past week or so, when I had to make one of the toughest choices I can ever recall making.

It was completely unexpected. About seven days ago, and (not quite entirely) out of the blue, I received an email from the EDB, Hong Kong’s education department. The email informed me that I had been successful in gaining a job interview as a regional coordinator in the Hong Kong NET scheme. The NET scheme is a heavily-funded programme whereby the HK government sponsors about a thousand Native English Teachers to teach in Hong Kong’s public education system. Being a NET is possibly the most highly-sought-after ESL job in the world. It carries a very high salary for experienced teachers at very low tax rates. I worked as a NET for eight years in Hong Kong before returning to live in Australia in August 2012.

Of course I did apply for the job several weeks ago, so that’s why I wrote that it was not entirely a surprise. But I threw the application in as an afterthought, in a moment of what Thoreau might call “quiet desperation”. For things have not been entirely rosy since I returned to Australia. I have been lucky enough to secure some work at Swinburne University as a sessional lecturer in their Masters of Strategic Foresight unit. But that is very irregular work and not enough to pay the bills. And most of the jobs I see here in Australia are not particularly attractive to me. I don’t want to go back into secondary education. Being a teacher in a public school in Australia can be an unpleasant experience. You may just as well paint a great target sign on a man’s back and send him out onto an army artillery firing range. Kids these days…

But there is more to this dilemma than finances. The reason I returned to Australia last year is because I got some very clear spiritual guidance to do so. I awoke one dark night in Hong Kong and suddenly a large, dark map of Australia appeared before my mind’s eye. There were red lights around Melbourne, which I knew represented places I could potentially go. Then a song started playing in my inner ear, an old 80s classic by LipsInc – “Funky Town:

Gotta make a move to a town that’s right for me

Gotta keep me moving keep me grooving with some energy

I knew Hong Kong was no longer “right for me”. So I moved to Melbourne. That’s where I am now. It’s just that it hasn’t been easy.

Such is life.

The recent interview offer really threw me. I was genuinely torn as to whether I should go to Hong Kong for the interview or not. After all, a NET regional coordinator is a senior position in the system, a job with high salary and high status. It represented a promotion opportunity. And to boot, an end to my immediate financial issues.

There was another problem. I would have to pay for the trip myself, and that would set me back about $1500; no small sum, given that my savings are getting eaten away with every day I go without a decent income stream.

I decided to ask the EDB whether I could have a video interview. Many organisations do this these days when hiring people from overseas. I wrote an email to the EDB representative who had initially invited me for the interview, explaining that it would be very difficult for me to attend the interview. They had only given me only one week’s notice, so I tried to use this as leverage. This is the response my email got in its entirety.

Dear Marcus,

Sorry that the interview cannot be conducted online.

Regards,
W

Ah, yes, that remarkable Hong Kong bureaucratic hospitality displayed at its greatest! I was suddenly reminded of why I had left Hong Kong in the first place. Working life in Hong Kong can be a truly dehumanising experience. Hong Kong is a like a giant meat grinder, where employees tend to get squeezed by whomever is above them on the pecking order.

When I make decisions of any kind – but especially for big decisions – I rely heavily upon my intuition. That’s why I used two kinds of intuitive tools to make my final choice about this interview offer. The first is what I call Meditative States, and the second is The Feeling Sense (I outline these tools and how to use them in Discover Your Soul Template). So that evening I sat down in my bedroom and allowed myself to relax deeply. My mind became silent, and all thought and emotionality dissipated (any strong emotions – e.g. fear, worry, anger, excitement, lust – distort genuine intuition). I made a short prayer to Spirit, asking that I be shown the truth. Then I connected with the energy around my heart, and deliberately projected that energy outwards and towards my possible new job in Hong Kong. As I did so, the entire feeling around my heart became essentially negative – dull and listless, with a slight sense of repression, of being trapped. It just felt wrong. The feeling was definite, so I opened my eyes and brought myself back to full presence in my room. I gave thanks to Spirit.

“My strong sense is that I should not go to Hong Kong. So my decision is that I will not go. If this is wrong, please guide me in my dreams tonight.”

That night I slept. No message or vision came. When I awoke in the morning, I stirred and turned my attention once again to the decision at hand. First thing in the morning is the perfect time to ask questions to the subconscious, and to Spirit, for the mind is already quiet. Staying relaxed, I repeated the process from the night before. The result was the same. The energy was not right.

I would not go.

Early that morning I wrote an email to my contact at the EDB. I wanted to keep the channels open and relations friendly. Further, I felt I owed them a decent explanation. This is what I wrote, responding to the previous day’s email.

Dear W…,

That’s very bad news for me (about there being no video interviews). I do realise that the EDB will have standard protocols on this matter, so I understand.

If possible, I would like to telephone in person to make a personal apology in regard to this, for I feel that emails are just a little too impersonal. Even though I am not able to attend the interview on Friday, I would like to leave things on good terms, given that I may like to apply again in the future. In this instance, the one week I had to get on the plane just proved to be too difficult.

So would you be kind enough to allow me to phone either you or the most relevant person in this regard?

Kind regards,

Marcus

 

To date I have received no response to this email.

I made the right choice. The world of Hong Kong administrative bureaucracy is not for me. Melbourne may not quite be a “funky town” for me right now, but here I shall stay… until the energy moves me on. That’s all part of the test. When Spirit moves us in one direction, it does not guarantee instant gratification, nor effortless bliss. All things take time, and courage and perseverance are required; especially when we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Who knows what will happen next? I sure don’t. If I did, there would be no requirement for the trust that lies of the heart of spiritual awakening. So thank you Spirit, for not telling me anything more than what I need to know right now.

Marcus

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