Once you begin to become really honest with yourself about your life and affairs, no matter how painful this recognition might be in the moment, it marks a turning point in your life – a turning point where you begin to see things more clearly and are more willing to see things more clearly, to be more honest with yourself about your engagements with people and about your plans and goals, and even eventually about your fundamental beliefs.
This turning point is born of suffering. It is born of the recognition that you are failing in your attempt to organize your life successfully in keeping with how you really feel on the inside. Perhaps your life meets the criteria of culture and the expectations of your family and others, and they hail you as a success, but inside there is emptiness. Inside, you know you have not found solid ground. You have not reached that which you are searching for.
Even if you acquire all things representing success and advancement in this world – beautiful relationships, lovely family, beautiful home – even if your work was meaningful in some way, which is so seldom the case, if you are not finding that which is your purpose, your soul will be starving. You will be suffering on the inside. You will congratulate yourself and allow others to congratulate you, but on the inside, you are frightened and unfulfilled.
This is the turning point, you see. You are tired of suffering, tired of false ideals, tired of striving for that which cannot satisfy you. This marks the turning point and begins the return – the return to your authentic Being.
I think of the Human race as someone who became separated from their mother’s hand in a department store … for fifty thousand years.
We have gone sick by following a path of untrammelled rationalism, male dominance, attention to the visible surface of things, practicality, bottom-line-ism. We have gone very, very sick.
And the body politic, like any body, when it feels itself to be sick, it begins to produce antibodies, or strategies for overcoming the condition of disease. And the 20th century is an enormous effort at self-healing.
Phenomena as diverse as surrealism, body piercing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, jazz, experimental dance, rave culture, tattooing, the list is endless.
I applaud all of this; because it’s an impulse to return to what is felt by the body – what is authentic, what is archaic – and when you tease apart these archaic impulses, at the very centre of all these impulses is the desire to return to a World of magical empowerment of feeling.
And at the centre of that impulse is the shaman: stoned, intoxicated on plants, speaking with the spirit helpers, dancing in the moonlight, and vivifying and invoking a World of conscious, living mystery. That’s what the World is.