friends be bangin

I am truly blessed by the presence of legitimately awesome friends in my life. I’m not from around this town we call c://maine, but i have been welcomed here and together we are forging a village, allowing roots to grow deep and break up all the concrete that keeps us separated from one an#other. With friends like this i trust that i can continue diving deep into the nether regions of the soul and not entirely fuck out when i find it’s dark in there. With friends like this i know i can let go sometimes, surrender, drift, allow what has to happen to happen and know, from the heart-place, that we’ve got each other’s backs and hearts and pineal glands all just hangin out in one big cup of warm hands. It’s like one big platonic orgy over here right now. Much love, much respect, much growth, much divine healing in the footpaths of life. With friends like these i don’t need to run away to the mountains. With friends like these i can more easily accept that life is just one big fluffy joke f[ull of]art. Friends be bangin. Try not to forget that. Give your mate a hug, yep yep yep.

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… no fear in love

for now

she has gone
for now

and i’m not scared
thanks
in yes big part no small part
to Moris Farhi, a man
who sometimes fears
in love

and because
i am / in love, rising
with her
+
me,
us
all—

just different thermals
for now …

love is the cure for addiction

I came across this Huffington Post article about addiction the other day, shared on Facebook by Australia 21, which appears to be a progressive think-tank.

Whatever they are is irrelevant — they shared this article about addiction and it was a real game-changer for me, an addict.

It is a game-changer for me because the author, Johann Hari, puts forward a theory that explains in words a feeling i have long had (as an addict) about addiction being a symptom of our culture, rather than drugs being a cause of addiction. I mean addiction causes problems, sure, but ignoring the causes of addiction is a problem in itself.

Common sense, no?

This article gives me much hope that we are moving toward greater understanding — of ourselves, and of what Western so-called civilisation is missing to such an extent we are all addicted to something.

What we are missing is access to spiritual succour, to love — connection to each other, and to nature. We can change this, because we are becoming aware of it. So there is much hope for much love. Yes yes yes!

Below are some exceprts from the article that really resonated with me.

This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

In the article he describes how rats left alone in a cage with only heroin for company will consume the heroin until they die. Because they are lonely and heroin is their only friend. Put rats in cage with heroin among other things to play with, including each other, and the heroin loses its persuasive power.

They actually did this. The heroin-laced playground was called Rat Park, and Johann Hari makes a good analogy between the isolated rats in a cage and the way many of us conduct our lives in the West — alone, isolated from one another and nature, driven by the lie we’ve been told about the invisible hand of self-interest:

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

By identifying that our lack of connection is a major cause of addiction, we can see:

we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

We are addicts because we are lonely, and sometimes it seems that drugs are our only friend. We need something like Rat Park — the Garden City movement is an interesting place to look if you’re interested in how we might recreate a human-size version.

Detractors of this theory will pull out the chemical-addiction card, saying shit like “It’s not our/society’s fault — these junkies chose to inject chemicals and now they’re hooked.” Like i suspected, this argument is probably Bullshit:

Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks.

I like a good, open-minded qualifier in an argument, so i was heartened to read on:

the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

After describing a decriminalistion case in Portugal, he says:

They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society.

At this point i’m thinking, Der. Demonise drug addicts by arresting them and throwing them into cells with each other, where they will learn to be yet-more-ruthless drug criminals because they are isolated from a loving society: nice one, the West.

Instead,

we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

And finally, as if that were not profound enough, the conclusion of this article is so beautiful. But have a look — i don’t want to spoil it for you.

 

anthesis

1. (botany) the period or act of expansion in flowers, especially the maturing of the stamens.

By adding an ‘e’ to this, do we get a verb? Anthesise!

More from Wikipedia: Anthesis is the period during which a flower is fully open and functional.

Obviously this is ripe for the … *drum roll* … metaphorical picking.

See also, though, my earlier post on parallels between romantic love and picking orchids, which leads me to a post about how lust corrupts power, not love, and from there onto displacing the shame of impotence with our old friend, awareness. Be careful, it’s a rabbit warren in here sometimes.

Anthesise!

Anthesise!

 

my greatest fear is enslavement by fear

As a cycle tripper, people often ask me, “Aren’t you afraid of trucks or robbers or snakes or whatever?” Lions and tigers and bears, essentially — mythical fears.

The question often surprises me because I think my greatest fear is enslavement by fear.

This dawned on me this morning as i was commuting from the lake where i’ve set up camp, to Kerang where i come to work.

I remembered the question and thought, Sure i’m a little bit afraid of those things — i have a natural and healthy wariness of them.  But i cycle because i value freedom, i camp because i cherish nature as a cathedral, and i trust people because i’m a philanthrope — i love humanity.

The alternative, which i experienced for a decade in publishing and i guess the twenty years before that, is no longer tenable to me.

The alternative to freedom is the enslavement of fear.

No thanks! I’ll try my luck with the lions and tigers and bears.

Starting to Breathe, Part IV

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – Part III is here

The Porn Tangent

It feels like another start because i can’t go back now. I don’t want to just fall back on false resources, smoking and drinking and over-eating and looking at porn. That one’s a big one, and sensitive: my dependence on porn. I actually can’t remember the last time i looked at porn, though i’ve had ample opportunity. I haven’t had the desire. But now, in my currently fragile state, i feel the desire.

But i see it for what it is: a desire to feel some kind of instant pleasure; pretty women are beautiful, and i get pleasure from seeing them with cum on their faces :/ That is perversion, an unnatural desire.

I was positively effected by the TEDx talk below from Ran Gavrieli about how unnatural desire can emerge in us from watching modern porn. As my sexuality burgeoned in my early adolescence i didn’t have this desire. It is a desire that has grown, been unconsciously cultivated, by my exposure to and previously indiscriminate/unaware consumption of whatever porn i could access on the internet, which is mostly cumshots.

.

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Starting to Breathe, Part III

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – Part II is here

Turkey

I arrived in December 2013 on a three-week luxury bus tour with my mother. I am still here, seven months later – though i’m writing from Lesvos, a Greek island a few hours off the west coast of Turkey.

Leaving the Eden Hills sanctuary in Australia, i was worried that i would allow myself to be derailed from the progress i was making. So be it: in Istanbul i took up smoking again, stumbled in love and fell, and gradually plummeted back into despair.

I started drinking again, smoking weed … but in a new way. Even in my despair i knew that something had shifted when i was at Eden Hills – something had shifted in me and made way for the growth of self-love, which cannot co-exist with the sort of self-hate that had previously left me seeking oblivion in consumption and other external sources. I had resumed attempting to fill myself up from without, but i was more aware that this was what i was doing.

The relationship broke down as i accepted that external romatic love is just another thing i was eating, trying to fill myself up from without, when what i knew i really needed was a practice to cultivate self-love. We tried to be friends and walked some days on the Lycian Way together, but things broke down further in Kaş and we went our separate ways.

Pained by another cherished friendship jeopardised, i was alone again, and homeless, again. So i walked forth into homelessness and arrived at Çıralı, a lot sad but mostly happy and relieved that my pilgrimage had resumed. Another start.

In Çıralı i met a young Italian woman and an old Turkish man. We communed, and Maddy inspired me to travel back up the west coast to the Mount Ida region, where an Osho festival was being held. We had been talking about our respective practices, and i about how mine had waned. I said i couldn’t get back to Thailand until December, as though my practice is somehow dependent on place, which, to some extent, it is for now – i need/want to be in an environment conducive to meditation and the lifestyle practices that support the inner journey.

I have not yet cultivated enough of an inner sanctuary that will mean i can carry my practice with me wherever i go. Meanwhile i oscillate between strong practice, lackadaisical drifting and binge alcoholism.

Drifting is important, though. I was reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at the time, which helped me understand that sometimes drifting is a necessary part of our life process. I was drifting when i arrived at Çıralı, and i was drifting as i sat in Yilmaz’s beer garden, talking to Maddy and Özer.

The important thing about drifting is you eventually bump into something. I bumped into Maddy, and i bumped into her reply to my saying i couldn’t be in Thailand until December, which was the simple, profound question: “Why?”, a two-fold question: on the surface it meant Why can’t you go to Thailand now?; underneath it also meant Why can’t you practice now?

There are logistical reasons i can’t be in Thailand now, but there is no reason i can’t practice now.

So i went to the Osho festival, and from there i went to Osho Afroz in Greece. In Turkey we did a lot of daily Osho meditations and group sessions with various therapists, one of whom was Giten, a breathwork and trauma-release specialist.

In Greece we finished an eight-day course in breathwork training.

What i learned in the course is that i do not know how to breathe properly (gasp!); i have almost no inner connection with my body; i have much tension to let go of, and i am learning how to do so with breathing; my chakra system is in a sorry state of disrepair; i am disconnected from my core creative energy; i have many mechanisms for keeping myself separate from this core, from myself, others and the divine love of the universe; i am afraid of how i will feel without these mechanisms.

In the first days of the course i touched a deep sense of peace and joy, but for last days I felt utterly terrible, deeply ashamed.

I have learned that when i connect with and accept the trauma that has lead to the development of such mechanisms i begin to heal, but that healing is often painful. It feels trite to say that we must go through the darkness to get to the light, but i feel that is a fundamental truth of self-healing. As Florence Welch says, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

 

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Starting to Breathe, Part II

a rambling five-part exploration of how spiritual healing must complement lifestyle changes that will facilitate spiritual healing – Part I is here

After Southeast Asia

In 2011 i went to Southeast Asia for the same reason millions of other seekers have left the West, disillusioned from a culture that promises meaning in the meaningless: possessions, wealth, material well-being … all of it ephemeral in that mundane way – fleeting, impermanent. I am seeking the everlasting, our spirit.

I went on the uncertain hope that i would be awarded an arts grant that would support me to continue my career while i investigated Buddhism on the side. The grant came through, and i spent eighteen months in Thailand and Cambodia, three months teaching creative writing in Phnom Penh, the rest of the time writing a novel manuscript when i wasn’t struggling against the pull of my old self to escape into the above-mentioned external sources of so-called succour.

I feel like i’ve told this story a thousand and one times, to others and to myself. I don’t want to be my story anymore.

I came back from Thailand an alcoholic, stoned out of my brain. I had done all that i could to make the grant project a success in unfavourable conditions and, by the time i was leaving i finally made my way to a five-day stay in a Chiang Mai monastery.

There, i touched a sense of peace and calm that i hadn’t known existed within me, and that was a start.

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