Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quote from "Being-In, Being-For, Being-With" by Clark Moustakas

This is from the "Introduction" of Moustakas' book, Being-In, etc.:

The aim is to evoke a human presence, a freedom to enter into peaks and valleys of experience, courage to walk through darkness and traverse shadows of life itself. To achieve these aims, one must become internally alive, embrace one's own perceptions and senses, and face whatever appears in one's awareness and understanding--the imponderable and unknown regions of the self that inevitably occur in individual and communal living.

To Be-In means to cherish one's inner light, to stand out, as a unique being and to know others and life from the substance of one's own unique self.

To Be-For ones self requires that the person stand by her or his own values, convictions, and beliefs and not to be swayed or manipulated by outside opinions, expectation, or demands. Being-For oneself means to support one's own creations and communications and to affirm one's own identity, one's feelings, one's choices and preferences. To Be-For is to confirm oneself. At no time does this have more immediate power and danger than when one is alone, on a private path, at a time when one is not being confirmed by anyone else. Being-For means daring to gaze inward and finding strength in self-resources and self-expressions. In Being-For oneself one remains with one's own perceptions and views; the evidence of one's own senses guides one in pursuit of the truth [this is what Clark means by heuristic eduction, learning from one's own experiences].

In Being-For oneself the person takes cues from the resources and possibilities of the self, from inner tendencies, leanings, interests, and tacit self-resources.

To Be-With oneself is a way of facing the polarities of one's world, a process of realizing hat each contrasting component represents a legitimate voice and that the challenge is to find a place of harmony and balance among the diversity of possibilities and actualities, opposing views, inner tensions, and contrary ideas [sounds like healthy Taoism to me....all all all is in the Tao]. To Be-With is a way of talking to oneself, of facing the fears and doubts of existence as well as the enticements and attractions of life, listening to the inner silences and words, and daring to cope with the strains of freedom and imprisonment. To Be-With is to accept and let be the forces of darkness and light, discovery and mystery, joy and sorrow, life and death.

Being-In oneself and in the world of others, Being-For oneself and for life, and Being-With oneself and with others are ways of being open to the possibilities of creative life, of being receptive to new rhythms, and of finding ways of expressing individuality, wholeness, and essence.

Truth in Being-In, -For, and -With becomes a form of self-other discovery, an heuristic process leading authentically to I and Thou. Each reality holds shapes and patterns and exists in its own terms; each leads to the freedom to explore regions of mind, heart, and soul or to be blocked by roles, rules, and expectations...

Salmon Rushdie (1992) emphasizes the imperative of holding to one's own reality, to the truth and freedom of one's own self.

"Our lives teach us who we are. I have learned the hard way that when you permit anyone else's description of reality to supplant your own--and such descriptions have been raining down on me, from security advisers, governments, journalists, Archbishops, friends, enemies, mullahs--then you might as well be dead. Obviously, a rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried is rather more vulnerable. Yet I must cling with all my might to my own soul; must hold on to its mischievous, iconoclastic, out-of-step clown instincts, no matter how great the storm. And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've live in that messy ocean all my life." [p.85]

Friday, March 18, 2011


As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. -- C.G. Jung*

"Man has a soul...there is a buried treasure in the field." -- C.G. Jung **

Carl Jung's entire life and vocation were devoted to the exploration and understanding of the religious function of the psyche [click here to read a book review] . His books and ideas have only just begun to be understood as a radical re-dreaming of human purpose that he discovered in his lifelong study of myth, religion, science, culture and individual dreams. His books are not easily understood but if one persists, and with helpful others also reading along, the rich depths of his psychological explorations begin to incrementally reveal.

With a goal to this rich unfolding of Jung, a bi-monthly reading and inquiry group is forming for all who are interested in reading Jung and Jungian or transpersonal works of a religious/soulful nature which synthesize psychological and mythic material.

Those who are involved in therapy work, counseling, body oriented psychological work, ministerial work, any form of healing work with others or who simply want to continue to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the psyche (Greek for "soul") and develop a deeper union and communion with personal and transpersonal (archetypal) psyche which, says Jung, "we are within...it is not just within us," are invited to attend. A primary goal of the group will be to understand and integrate Jung's psychological approach personally and practically.

All you need to participate in this group is a commitment to regularly attend, as well as a commitment to growth, understanding and integration of the material read and discussed. If you delight in tackling difficult texts all the better. If you struggle with difficult text but want to "get to the meat of the text" with others all the better, too.

There are two ways of engaging with the symbolic, archetypal, and mythological forms that reside in the wild landscape of our unconscious. One is to encounter them as they emerge, grappling and wrestling with them in ordinary everyday reality, turning our gaze to their veiled faces and hooded eyes to see what mystery lies there. The other way, however, is ultimately an inevitable call to descend into the depths where the forms dwell, facing and interacting with them in their own turf, the mysterious inner territory of the
underworld that supports and sustains them—and us. - James Hillman

This group will also be a form of supervision for those participants who have some form of practice working with others in a "helping" capacity. We will work your clinical material as we work with the texts for greater understanding, integration and application in your work.

I will facilitate the reading and discussion also using clinical material from Jung's and others' practices while inviting participants to bring their own clinical material to the group for discussion in regards to the studies at hand.

I propose that we begin by reading Jung's 1934 seminar on children's dreams. It is readable, fascinating and enlightening with immediate application to one's own dream work as well as working with the dreams of others. The seminar has only just this year been published and is available at [click here] amazon.com as well as the C.G. Jung bookstore on E. 39th Street. As we read this and other books I will provide a model of Jung's view of the psyche which will assist in understanding the reading and practical application of Jung's insights and techniques. You may read a review of the seminar here.

The group will begin April 4th, meeting every other Monday from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm depending on its size (the meeting time can be tweaked a bit depending on the daily schedules of attendees). You can bring y0ur lunch or brunch if need be while we shall all munch mentally upon the reading for the day.

The fee for attendance is $50 per class. You will purchase your own books. I will provide handouts, essays, etc. as may be needed to further understanding and practical application of what we are reading.

I request a commitment of attendance to the group till end of June. If the group prefers to meet weekly then I am certainly available to do so. If you are outside of Manhattan and have several people interested in forming a reading/study group in your area please let me know. Have Jung will travel. Also, if there are at least 3 people who can meet at a particular time and day then I am able to meet at said time.

Feel free to forward this e-flyer to anyone you think may want to attend.

We will meet at East 10 St apartment in Manhattan's East Village between 3rd and 2nd avenue (contact me for the exact address). If there are more than 8 students I will arrange to meet elsewhere.

If you would like to speak to me personally about the group please do not hesitate to call me. My phone number is 212-677-6712. You may email me at roofdweller_2@yahoo.com.

Looking forward to getting started!!

Warren Falcon

*from Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1962

**from a letter by C.G. Jung, Jung Letters, Volume 2, 1973

Thursday, March 17, 2011

O Starry Spangled Shock of Mercy - Of Human Presence In Apocalypse

The Ego, being conscious, the very center of consciousness, is apriori and derives it's existence from the older unconscious, and symbolically has a heavenly origin to which it will return, a Star. - Kevin F. [here]

APOCA-LATTE NOW. What image do you see in the foam?
Click on the image to enlarge it.

[Many have written to me asking my opinions and views of recent events which appear to point to "apocalypse impending" & "apocalypse now". I have culled from my various email responses stitching various parts of them together to comprise what is below. An email response is more casual, one lets one's hair down and thus paints, as do I, in broad strokes, in generalities with very few if any footnotes. I have published a few of these email responses elsewhere on the blogspot - to read these longer pieces click
here. Throughout the essay are words or phrases underlined in red which link to footnotes and essays quoted. Click on those to read the sources referred to.]

Most apocalyptic predictions from indigenous cultures ancient and new are based upon interpretations of stellar events which were/are and will be out of human control (but for blood sacrifices, sympathetic magic, appeasement by apotropaic rituals, etc. Apotropaic is "an adjective that means warding against evil, or deflecting misfortune, and commonly refers to objects such as amulets or other symbols" - Wikipedia). Given New Age "bloodless" souls the sacrifices to be made are those of intellect, alas. Any blood that they shed to appease the offended powers will be made of pureed beets and guar gum. And Fundamentalists of all stripes are also required to sacrifice critical thinking and to adhere rigidly to official doctrines and interpretations which are not to be questioned. Emotions rule the day and sway of interpretations which are subjectively skewed from what might be "objective" images derived from psyche, from sciences old (astrology, divination, dream, etc.) and new (research, reason, verification, etc.).

I have a well-educated astrologer friend and teacher who is brilliant on all this "end times/2012 Mayan-and-other-ancient calendar" kaputski stuff. She practices what she calls "mythic astrology" which is pre- modern astrology. Modern astrology roughly came into being more or less 2000 years ago with a more sophisticated mathematics at the disposal of magi/astrologers (yes, Virginia, the ZERO was invented! and by the Arabs!!), the sky was laid out in grids with calculated time in linear measurable segments - past, present, future, with numbers attached. Ancient astrology was devalued; mathematics cut the once fluid material and mental world of space and time into more and more static segments, lines, shapes with numbers, into measurable discriminate chunks/pieces. Space and time became categories of knowledge. Thus "the end of time" came into mental being inevitably/officially/theologically to be calculated and predicted via math and "signs" which reflected the cosmologies and values of cultures around the world observing the same events while developing each their mathematics and interpretive slants as to when The End would arrive. Stars and synchronistic events on earth whose elusive dots from heaven to earth were, and are still, connected - psychologically associated - from mostly reptilian brain fears of The End by prophets, priests, priestesses, and seers. They observe the heavens and events upon earth interpreting these projected-upon events according to the prevalent, mostly ancient, pre-modern religious cosmologies at hand.

Even today such interpretations/expectations are still derived from ancient prophesies. This is problematic as these old "messages" are delivered into modern/postmodern psyches which think concretely regarding symbols, their "spiritual" brains, if you will, are atrophied and are thus prone to uncritically believe almost anything which smacks of ancient primal (instinctual based) mind manifest in part by a regression into concretistic thinking regarding symbolic content. One hopes - in order to rejuvenate atrophied spiritual mind into conscious, thoughtful congress with modern/postmodern advances of understanding and knowledge - that that very reptilian fear will compel/spur a "search and recovery" mission to tolerate, celebrate and calibrate the tensions between, and revelation therefrom, reason and faith. This may ultimately lead to greater capacities to sit with apparent opposites in complementarity to/with each thus inhibiting acting out the real discomfort/dis-ease/fright and confusion. Developed capacities to be more or less in equanimity with "not knowing" absolutely in head or in "gut" (the gut/bowels are symbolic of deeply felt intuitive knowing") while self-preservation instincts are revved up into highest gear may allow panic moments time to process discharge/calm neurological/emotional storms and then more cooler heads and calmed nervous systems may prevail.

To greatly and practically assist all this now, an understanding that a symbol is not a sign is needed. This may seem like a minor distinction but it is of archetypal importance to know the difference between the two. One need only look to Fundamentalist concretization and acting out of symbols to know that this understood distinction has life or death consequences:

"The Sign, an abstract word, picture, etc...points to the state of the objective, exterior world, while the Symbol, living breathing signifier of the internal, subjective world is understood to provide meaning for the individual. The perfect state of things is to know the difference between the two, to not mix their properties, and to allow deep religious truth to be communicated symbolically [as opposed to concretistic and/or reductgive interpretations which lead to either "acting out" in 2 year old primal mind or in denial of any reality to symbols resulting in a materialistic view of the world], as opposed to signally, and vice versa, for the Sign to communicate external factual data of the way things are." This distinction between symbol and sign ascribes the territory of faith/belief, symbol, and of science/knowledge, sign. Jung helps us to understand that in every sign, or beneath every sign, is an archetype from which the sign (a finite representation of a symbol) is derived. AND it is of utmost importance to know this and to also keep the distinction for practical purposes for the attainment of knowledge and understanding of both symbol and sign, all the while understanding and valuing the profound relationship/revelation within both in their functional distinctions.

Time in the ancient world did not exist as it does for us postmoderns (modern astrology is 2000/2500 years old). The more or less official END of our so-called "civilized Western world" as we know it began (Jung writes of this in one of his last books, Aion) with "the time of the second fish" meaning that the 2000 year old Piscean era's "first fish" - the Pisces symbol is of two fish swimming in opposite directions thus symbolizing an aion where the opposites and awareness of them will be the singularly, most significant developer of human consciousness - was that of the spiritual Christ and other-worldly values. The "second fish" - swimming in the opposite direction of the first represents the "material" realm with earthly, "Satanic" values, man-centered, not God-centered and thus, according to folks of the "first fish" ("spiritual ones), is to be condemned and transformed if possible.

The material "anti-Christ" second-fish period of science, philosophy, alchemy, and humanism sped up mightily during the man-centered Renaissance and zoomed ahead to what we have now; in other words, we are already in the "apocalypse" and have been for 1000 years or more (and there are many apocalypses throughout human history). Jung says that in the Renaissance "the gods fell out of the heavens and into the psyches of humans, into matter". Humankind took center stage in human awareness, Alexander Pope proclaiming:

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of mankind is man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

What is "apocalypse" after all but a revelation. It means a "lifting of the veil", a revelation, "a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception." Most "falsehoods and misconceptions" were once the received cosmology and knowledge of the day. As humans change and evolve those once received beliefs, knowledge, values and views are changed by "what is revealed", by new knowledge and awareness. Cultural values change (with warfare between those of the old values and those of the new), even gods change (gods represent the highest values of a culture) and thus there is a clash of cosmologies, of literal groups and nations which surely feels like the "End Times" and they ARE the end of the world as we know it which gives way, usually with blood - the evolution of consciousness does not come about sweetly - and synchronistic outer events, to some new center. Poet W.B. Yeats says it true in his poem, "The Second Coming", about the falling apart of the old center, the old values, "Turning and turning in the widening gyre, The falcon cannot find the falconer, Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?" It is rough with an animal slouch for the new center always appears darkly threatening at first because it threatens the old "calcified and sanctified" center/values/order, and heralds a return of the instincts which need, too, to be reintegrated into "spirit/etheric-oriented religions).

Thus the ongoing cycle of apocalypse in world civilizations is a dramatic shift in values, cosmologies, which means the old ones which were once valid and descriptive of consciousness of their time recede, fade, diminish, morph, are absorbed and built upon by the new Value reflecting and encouraging the next stage of consciousness coming to be (it is presumed) toward greater refinement and innovation. That civilizations regress is a fact of history which certainly is an experienced apocalypse true. The "apo" of the word signifies "ap-, prefix meaning "from, away from, separate, free from," from Gk. apo "from, away from; after; in descent from," in compounds, "from, asunder, away, off; finishing, completing; ceasing from; back again," from PIE base *apo- "off, away" (cf. Skt. apa "away from," Avestan apa "away from," L. ab "away from, from," Goth. af, O.E. of "away from")" -Wikipedia. From the very etymology of the word "apocalype" we see that there is a moving away from, a sundering of and from once were valid values/world views with a rough entry into newer values/world views. There is a violence implied which becomes certainly manifest in the world.

Since the Sun is the "God" of our physical solar system (and thus the center of the universe/LIFE for us) another Sun is now being born, a new center, a new value in our inner solar system. For all of the sobering personal work that must be efforted on our part with help from understanding others, we are enduring a collective dream of apocalypse which can and must be interpreted historically/archetypally in terms of how human consciousness has evolved, how such changes have been expressed in culture, in history. Whether we like it or not a BIG change has truly pivoted on the downward slide of the "Meaning Star" moving past it's apogee in the night sky, has begun it's "fall" down toward the horizon's new dawning "Morning Star"; there is a new sun, a new Key Value, a new "god-image" dawning, it is now upon us. The movie "2001, A Space Odyssey" hints at this dawning greatly; planetarily consciousness of "just ourselves alone" as a species and planet will shift to a more universal awareness of our hopefully more conscious participation in the "web of life" with the rest of the material universe which is, indeed, the end of the business as usual, of the world as we know it.

Edward Edinger's book on the apocalypse speaks of "the archetype of the apocalypse" [click here for a book review]. I have to remind myself that archetypes are living symbols, active dynamic energies distinctly formed, which shape our experience of reality and which, it is surmised, shape reality because they are the very building blocks of experienced and interpreted reality, so the apocalypse (which partakes of death/rebirth symbolism) is an activated archetype which has been activated ongoingly since homo simians became homo lumens/homo sapiens. Now at the end of the Piscean era which has been happening since the "Second Fish", moving rapidly now into the "Water Bearer/Aquarian era with global communication, technology, rockets, H-bombs, information explosion and uneasy co-mingling of cultures and DNA (including theological DNA of "local deities" (and ALL DEITIES ARE LOCAL), we, the human collective WE, must shift out of the old local deity/suns/values and into another one that's "falling" to what will be called "a new earth", incarnating, coagulating, bringing with it reorganizing chaos until some order begins to emerge and what is new and valuable (one hopes) can begin to be discerned.

However, in such major transitions from the twilight of old gods/values to the new gods/values the tendency is to anally cling to the older, to resist or outright war with those "stellar" alien forces "invading" consciousness - all those UFOs and "aliens" image this event of new emerging/invading consciousness/wholeness. C.G. Jung's book on UFOs, Flying Saucers, A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, examines these "mandalas of the skies". Since mandalas are symbolic images of wholeness, these "saucers" with their aliens bring aspects/values to be consciously integrated into collective consciousness, and they are greatly feared and resisted. These images/energies of the Self, Jung's notion of that greater central organizing factor in the human psyche, are yet to be integrated as they are only now just "landing" in human consciousness. The ongoing task which now and future humans must set to is to integrate the "new sun", the new light which represents a new value. Ancient humans have always intuited that this was coming else they would not have drawn the images of strange creatures and stars and mandalas descending to earth discovered on cave walls, on petroglyphs, carved bones, etc.

In sum, what is coming is NEW CONSCIOUSNESS, NEW CULTURE variously expressed in unique world cultures. As this sea change occurs hard times are here and ahead but this is the ongoing stuff of material existence magnified by expansions of technology which bring the once remote (and unknown) "other" and threatening world into our homes with live footage of catastrophe and war. Allen Ginsberg's apocalyptic poem, HOWL, speaks to this tumultuous confusion and conflict when once were meaningful centers of civilization are no longer meaningful, when a culture's center cannot hold, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn." In this new dawn that we are dragging ourselves in, of new values as yet to be fully kenned and formed much less integrated, we all are shaken by this dawn overload of unleashed, once-repressed instincts/information with less restrained access to the human body (insertive cameras penetrate our very intimate canals and cavities revealing meat mysteries rendered into functions no longer occupied by gods) and to the world body, its cultures unveiled , their religions, cosmologies digitally displayed on screens large and small enough for a hand to hold, for eyes to behold.

In the midst of collective disorientation Ginsberg's HOWL [here] offers us a powerful hint at what can center individuals and cultures in the midst of apocalyptic changes; he repeats over and over in refrain to various beloved persons, "I am with you...I am with you...I am with you..." In varying contexts of sure human suffering and insanity Ginsberg offers us the healing value and experience of utter human presence, of humans showing up in the midst of "the machinery of night [in] poverty and tatters hollow-eyed and high...smoking in the supernatural darkness [of] hydrogen jukeboxes" in heart-broken openness, presence-with, "in poor human prose" which are "starry spangled shocks of mercy," merciful presence in the dark and din as The End ensues, the Wheel turns and once again we begin, and begin, and begin, blinking in the light of a second sun.


From HOWL, Part One, by Allen Ginsberg:

Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland
where you're madder than I am
I'm with you in Rockland
where you must feel very strange
I'm with you in Rockland

where you imitate the shade of my mother
I'm with you in Rockland
where you've murdered your twelve secretaries
I'm with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor
I'm with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I'm with you in Rockland
where your condition has become serious and
is reported on the radio
I'm with you in Rockland
where the faculties of the skull no longer admit
the worms of the senses
I'm with you in Rockland
where you drink the tea of the breasts of the
spinsters of Utica
I'm with you in Rockland
where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the
harpies of the Bronx

I'm with you in Rockland
where you scream in a straightjacket that you're
losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss
I'm with you in Rockland
where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul
is innocent and immortal it should never die
ungodly in an armed madhouse
I'm with you in Rockland
where fifty more shocks will never return your
soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
cross in the void
I'm with you in Rockland
where you accuse your doctors of insanity and
plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the
fascist national Golgotha
I'm with you in Rockland
where you will split the heavens of Long Island
and resurrect your living human Jesus from the
superhuman tomb
I'm with you in Rockland
where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com-
rades all together singing the final stanzas of
the Internationale
I'm with you in Rockland
where we hug and kiss the United States under
our bedsheets the United States that coughs all

night and won't let us sleep
I'm with you in Rockland
where we wake up electrified out of the coma
by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the
roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the
hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse
O skinny legions run outside O starry
spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is
here O victory forget your underwear we're free
I'm with you in Rockland
in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-
journey on the highway across America in tears
to the door of my cottage in the Western night.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Age Nonsense by Paul Edward Davies

[I have republished Paul Davies frank and clear account below as he expresses many of my arrived opinions of the New Age as a "recovering New Ager". To read Davies account on his blog click here.]

New Age Nonsense by Paul Edward Davies

In one of life’s nice little ironies, I seem now to be spending a lot of time dishing out advice that not so long ago – OK, a decade or so ago – I grandly ignored, thereby pushing my frail vessel onto the rocks of madness.

It’s the New Agers. Although I guess that, as charlatans and their gulls are as old as the hills, there is nothing particularly new about them. In particular, the way that one can get so easily stuck with exciting secondary effects of the spiritual path – the dazzling lights, the psychic side show – that we happily accept Fool’s Gold as if it were the real thing. And then, charging around on a “spiritual high” telling everyone else about it in a very excited fashion.

What happens, it seems, is we break out of our little minds and all the psychic stuff comes flooding in and, because it seems bigger and better and is laden with “spiritual” content, we can mistake it for the real thing. But any insight that might be there is invariably mixed up with all kinds of far-from-enlightened material stemming from unresolved conflicts in the unevolved parts of our psyches, the Shadow, primal myths and so on. And, at the centre of all this is good old small-mind Ego, who can get quite a kick out of all these weird and wonderful experiences.

The problem is that there is no authentic guidance. If I go to my local Zen or Tibetan Buddhist centre, I will be able to check out the lineage. Who’s running this show, who the teacher is, who taught him, who taught the teacher’s teacher and so on and so back. Often back to great masters such as Dogen or Jigmé Lingpa. Authentic lineage, authentic transmission offers some security to a would-be student. At the very least, the security of being in good spiritual company. At best, the confidence of joining a network with authentic spiritual masters.

But with the New Agers, there is little of this. Such guidance as there is comes from “discarnate” entities that are “channelled”. I don’t deny that truth can come through these visions and voices and channels (A Course in Miracles, for example). The problem is not the message, but the medium. There is no safeguard against muddle or malice. Unlike a living, flesh-and-blood teacher, a “discarnate” or “ascended” Master is experienced only within our Imagination. This means that even if he (or she or it) is an authentic spiritual entity, he still has to penetrate the Ego and its multiple strategies to keep the truth out.

“Interference” in the transmission is inevitable. And, at worst, the whole thing may be no more than a glorious ego trip. Because it is taking place within the Imagination, it is subject to Ego tricks and control. There is no Zen master with his stick to hit you or give a sharp (or gentle) word to correct you when you go off the track. These ones – the flesh and blood ones – you just can’t control. And they can be, from Ego’s point of view, horribly unpredictable and discomforting.

It’s a double trap, the New Age channelled masters thing. First, it is a lot easier because you don’t have the living teacher with his unpredictable tongue or stick. Second, because it is not-of-this-world, it seems to be more “spiritual”, coming from a higher plane (or “vibration” in New Age speak).

To be specific here. I recall hearing an authentic teacher, Sogyal Rinpoche, talking about a student of his who was suffering from anorexia and was convinced that he was telling her, via visions and dreams, not to eat. He told her face-to-face that she should ignore this stuff and that he was not telling her to starve herself. But she chose to believe the visions rather than the real teacher.

The problem is that, if we are not awake to this, the energy charge of a vision is so much stronger than something merely of this world. A discarnate master seems so much more “real” than a real, living one. So we give priority to what is merely a grandiose delusion.

Been there. Done that. And that’s why I take lithium!

In fact, the anorexic example is a good one. Because much of the New Age is body-hating. They are the dualistic heirs to gnostic ideas of the soul’s being imprisoned in matter. Spirit good, matter bad. They want to raise their vibrations to get out of a nasty, dirty, smelly, weak and sinful body. So get vibrating away and you may go “up” to be with ET and, if you are very lucky, JC himself!!

Actually, you just end up with Big E. The whole desire to go somewhere else – to higher realms, to purer levels of higher vibrations – this is not really a spiritual journey at all. Just the old Ego Trip in fancy dress.

The spiritual masters, east and west, have established procedures to testing the authenticity of voices, visions, channels and the like. St John of the Cross writes extensively about the need for a spiritual director to understand the “discernment of spirits”. And the warnings against getting distracted by voices and visions are almost as legion as the voices and visions themselves.

I write with some experience. I’ve had the visions and I’ve heard the voices. And I’ve written reams of “channelled” verbiage purporting to come from saints and angels. Frequent visitors to my hyperactive brain during this period of my life included Sophia (the archetypal goddess of Wisdom), King Solomon, the Archangel St. Michael and St. Francis of Assisi. There were some nuggets of wisdom there and pages and pages of drivel. Much of it, like many of the channelled books you can buy today, apocalyptic in tone and imagery with lots of stuff about final battles and all that. I could have edited it and published it as a New Age book – The Message of Sophia and Solomon, maybe. Fortunately – both for me and the world – I chose the wiser course of burning and binning the lot of it.

Because all this was happening at a time when my manic-depressive illness was enjoying one of its “up” periods. The channelled stuff was almost entirely written in a hyperactive state at four o’clock in the morning after only a few hours sleep. I was “hypomanic” for months and at times right on the border with psychosis. And, much as I would like to say that I was in some kind of rapturous, ecstatic state where the Divine was speaking through me, I have to accept that I was basically bonkers. The nuggets of wisdom that seemed so important and world-changing at the time were at best commonplace observations that had been put better many times before by people whose sanity could not be questioned.

So, this stuff can be dangerous. But beyond the risk of mental ill health, there are two other dangers that I see in the New Age Nonsense.

First, even if you don’t go mad, you get completely lost yourself as far as any spiritual or psychological development is concerned.. Second, your new-found beliefs and experiences start to cause harm to others. In the last few days, I ran into an example of each danger.

Example Nº 1. An artist who, in no more than a 20-minute conversation, divulged his mystical experiences with hallucinogenic herbs in the Amazon – standard altered-consciousness visions of exploding, expanding galaxies, otherworldly colours and sounds, sense of the immensity and unity of the cosmos, etc – along with past lives, crystals, chakras, channellings and so on and so on. A bit of theosophy here, Rosicrucianism there, plus some self-styled “gnosticism” thrown in with chunks of the real stuff from the East and mixed together with ample doses of New Age Narcissism. Oh, he talks with ETs too.

He was just revelling in the lights and excited about there being world upon world above ours, and beings – with whom he has communicated – who have many more dimensions than we do.

So he is trying to raise his vibrations. As they all do in the New Age. I said that I preferred to work on trying to bring other people’s vibrations down to my level. Which he didn’t entirely appreciate, but my humour isn’t to everyone’s taste. Just as well that I didn’t mention my idea to patent a New Age Vibrator™ - “insert in area of base chakra, switch on and watch your vibrations rise...”

His art – which seems to express a conflict between Light and Matter – is not bad at all. But he struck me as being lost, lost, lost in all this. But harmless as far as others are concerned.

Unlike, Example Nº 2. A woman who, when not trying to wash away her physical impurities by drinking her own piss, seems to think that any ancient form of medicine is in itself and its antiquity and Eastern-ness more valid than western medicine.

She is an advocate of the dangerous idea that illnesses of the body are caused by the mind or are even “karmic illnesses”. She believes, for instance, that some of the people with MS that she looks after as a nursing auxiliary have their illnesses because of abusing body/sexuality in a previous life. She presents this as being about where their energy in blocked (“energy” is a scientific word that, like “vibration”, the New Age loves to abuse). Message is: You abused your body then, so you can’t use your body now.

Not sure that you can do much with this “knowledge”. Well, you could tell your patients that they are suffering a nasty, terminal body-wasting disease because they abused their bodies in a previous existence. Or you could go around telling people not to abuse their bodies or they will come back with MS. Either of which gives “spirituality” a bad name.

But who benefits? Ah, that would be Mr/Ms Ego yet again. Getting off on having superior spiritual knowledge. And in all this, why single out an illness supposedly caused by sexual misconduct? Where is that coming from?

I’ll gave her a good Ken Wilber article on the subject, about the need to treat illness at each level (body, emotions, mind, spirit) in a way appropriate to that level. Yes there is a mind-matter link, but No it is nothing like what the New Agers say (you have cancer because of repressed anger, your are poor because of your “poverty mentality”, etc.)

Not sure she will buy it. Like a lot of well-meaning, seeking souls who have stumbled into the New Age, she prefers to waste time reading Alice Bailey’s channellings of “The Tibetan” talking in incoherent “esoteric” prose about hierarchies and correspondences – when there are plenty of real Tibetan masters around who can talk extremely coherently about real things.

But somehow a “channelled” teaching from an “ascended” master – an “adept of the second ray of love-wisdom” and “initiate of the 5th degree” in the case of Djwhal Khul (Bailey’s Tibetan) – is more convincing than a real, incarnate flesh-and-blood lama.

Watching Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire again rather brought home a lot of this. I simply delighted in the sheer joy the angel (Bruno Ganz) finds when finally leaving his pure, eternal, painless monochrome existence for the messy, full-colour, passion-and-pain life of a human being, where coffee tastes good and it is wonderful to rub your hands together to keep out the cold.

Yeah. I’ll tell that the New Age crew – time to wake up and taste the coffee.