I’ve been dreaming about this book you now hold in your hands since my first book, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis [i] came out in 2006. I’ve been wanting to elaborate and deepen my inquiry and articulation of the psychological disease that I wrote about in that book, but without having to reference or think about George W. Bush (what a relief!). There is a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul whose origin is within ourselves that has the potential either to destroy our species or wake us up, depending upon whether or not we recognize what it is revealing to us. In Wetiko: The Greatest Epidemic Sickness Known to Humanity, I pay homage to and appreciate how Native American traditions have been tracking the very same psychic [ii] virus which I am pointing at. The indigenous art-iculation of the disease is truly inspired and helps all of us to see and get in focus this elusive, nonlocal (see glossary) parasite of the mind even more clearly. In this book, I contemplate how the Native tradition’s expression of this disease of the soul, combined with my articulation of this same malady based on my own personal experience, help to bring each other’s vision into sharper clarity and focus. I look forward to many others adding their insights to the mix so as to deepen our understanding and flesh out our course of action in relation to this psychic plague even more clearly.
Writing this book has helped me stay sane in a world gone mad. Our species is clearly in the middle of a mass psychic epidemic, [iii] which in my book I call malignant egophrenia and Native Americans call wetiko psychosis. Whichever name we use, we are in the midst of a collective psychosis of titanic proportions, and one of its most stunning features is that very few people are even talking about it. This seems extremely crazy to me. Our madness has truly become normalized, to the point that we don’t even notice it. This book is attempting to illumine and articulate both the madness, as well as the source of the madness, which is ourselves.
To place this book in its proper context, I’m not writing as a scholar, but rather, as someone who has had a deeply personal and wounding experience with reference to what I am writing about. [iv] I only have the author-ity to write about this vampiric disease of the soul so intimately because I have, due to the designs of fate and/or karma, become intimately familiar with it in my own life. This wound has introduced me to something healing in myself, as if, like all of us, I am a ‘wounded-healer-in-training.’ I was introduced to this virulent entity when it unexpectedly introduced itself to me in the course of events in my life. Like Jacob encountering the angel of God at the ford of Jabbok, I was forced to contend and wrestle with the spirit of wetiko, or this more powerful, transpersonal energy would have literally killed me. In wrestling with this daemonic (see glossary) energy, I was preventing a murder─my own. Everyone in their own way goes through the archetypal experience of Jacob wrestling with the angel. I feel as if I am coming out of the closet when I write that I have had ‘close encounters of the wetiko kind’ which have entailed direct experiences of what the word ‘evil’ is attempting to name. These living experiences of the virulence of the psychic wetiko virus have disfigured, re-formed and changed me. These experiences have been truly shattering. As a result of the encounter I am no longer who I was, while at the same time never being more myself. This book, in which I share the insights I have gained from this ordeal, is the crystallization in form of this on-going process.
Pencil drawing by Paul Levy, “Self Portrait after being introduced to Wetiko,” 9¼” x 13¼” – 1979
Click on image for larger version.
A NONLOCAL PROTECTION RACKET
In light of the present discussion, my personal story [v] is un-important, other than to serve as the outer garment which reveals the underlying ‘archetypal’ (see glossary), structural dynamics that set the stage upon which these events got dreamed up in my life in the first place. Through experiences of wounding, trauma and abuse─almost being killed─that I suffered at the nonlocal hands of this malevolent entity, a deeper, archetypal process was playing out through my very personal situation in life, a process that is happening in all of our lives. What was most eye-opening for me was that when I began connecting the dots and noticing the deeper pattern that was playing out in my life, it became clear that my life, like all of ours, is a particularized microcosm, a personalized iteration of a collectivized macrocosmic fractal. It was as if my personal situation with its individual intra/inter-personal dramas was contained in and an expression of a deeper cosmic process that was enfolded throughout the underlying field.
I began to recognize that the diabolical [vi] energy that was nonlocally playing out throughout the entire field of consciousness was giving shape to and in-forming the field in such a way so as to hide itself. Uncannily, at the very moment that the abuse was going to be illumined, oftentimes out of ‘no-where,’ something seemingly unrelated would happen, what is called an ‘edge phenomenon’ that would serve as a distraction, diverting attention from what was just about to be revealed. At the same time, in this very process of something being veiled, a deeper process was revealing itself for all who have eyes to see. As if waking up in a sci-fi movie, it was like a higher-dimensional intelligence was orchestrating and nonlocally configuring not only people’s reactions, perceptions, and behavior, but the natural world itself, so as to seemingly protect the figure of the abuser, thus keeping the darkness from being illumined. I was beginning to realize that there is a deeper order inherent in this nonlocal ‘protection racket’ that is arranging and configuring the field so as to hide the abuser, while simultaneously expressing and revealing itself.
Instead of focusing on isolated objects and events, we can expand our fixed perspective and allow the deeper process (often taking the form of a mythic narrative of some sort) that is animating events to reveal itself. Instead of superimposing our limiting ideas and beliefs onto the waking dream, we can allow life to reveal its dreamlike nature to us. Once I began to notice the deeper pattern that was emerging, it became clear that people routinely got hooked through their unconscious blind spots and acted as unwitting conduits and agents of obfuscation through which the nonlocal disease could replicate itself. Everyone is unwittingly protecting the abuser in their own way, as well as protecting themselves. At the same time, all of us, when seen together, are being in-formed by and are potentially revealing a deeper pattern of unconscious, human behavior that is always operating in the shadows of the human psyche. We all instinctively assume certain poses and postures relative to each other, like aspects of a deeper, fluidly, shape-shifting emerging process that is revealing itself through our energetic inter-changes. Our trans-actions are an externalized reflection of the same shadow dynamics taking place within and between the different parts of our own psyche. From the dreaming point of view─which sees the seemingly outer, objective world as a dream which is speaking in symbols reflecting something within the subject, i.e., ourselves─the dynamic of ‘protecting the abuser’ is an expression of the aspect of ourselves that is hiding from the light and resisting the growth of consciousness. This is the part of us that is complicit with and participating in our own abuse. It is a reflection of the aspect of ourselves that is keeping us in the dark about what we are doing to ourselves. This book is meant to contribute to the critically important effort of blowing the cover off of this nonlocal protection racket.
Hidden in the evil of wetiko is its own medicine. Encoded in the darkness is the revelation of the light. Seeing darkness is a form of illumination. Like C. G. Jung, the great doctor of the soul reminds us, we become enlightened by making the darkness conscious. Protecting the abuser, though seemingly in the service of the powers of darkness, is, paradoxically, at the same time, potentially revealing the darkness, and hence, ultimately an expression of the light. Jung writes, “Light has need of darkness─otherwise how could it appear as light?” [vii] Seeing how the field nonlocally protects the abuser is a doorway through which we are introduced to the underlying unified and unifying field of consciousness where light and darkness are both expressions of a single non-dual sentient presence. Seeing the field-like aspect of protecting the abuser is to see the field in its nonlocal glory, which is to be in a glorified, i.e., more lucid state ourselves.
Seeing the field in its nonlinear and nonlocal dis-play magically empowers us with the visionary tools we need in order to navigate safely through to the other side of our experience, from a world of seemingly meaningless, random, separate material events to a world in which life is infused with meaning and we are fully rooted in our seamless connectedness with the biosphere, each other, and within ourselves. Seeing the field─a place where we are all inter-connected─is the portal through which we plug into the living plenum, the infinite reservoir of zero-point energy that fills all of the space in the universe. This is the place of leverage, our point of power where we can co-operatively help each other to step into the dream and put our lucidity together as one so as to intervene and creatively transform the waking dream in a way that changes everything.
DREAMING OF DRACULA
In light of our present discussion, a few of my own dreams come to mind: In the first dream, I am hanging out with Dracula in his apartment. His true identity as an evil vampire with malevolent intentions is ‘cloaked’ by his charisma and charm. We are very friendly with each other. I notice, however, that his eyes are beginning to glow in the dark in a ‘spooky’ sort of way. When I see the luminous, radiant light emanating from his eyes, I spontaneously begin making animal noises, like nature’s creatures do when confronted with an unfamiliar, other-worldly and dangerous energy. I begin barking, grunting, squealing and squawking. Dracula is not pleased that I have noticed his out-of-this-world, preternatural radiance. He didn’t know his supernatural nature was showing and it is clear that he didn’t want me to see through his disguise of ordinariness. In the dream, as if coming to my senses and snapping out of a spell, I realize that I am in extreme danger and that I have to leave. Immediately. I wake up.
Fairy tales and mythologies the world over symbolically represent, in various forms, humanity’s encounter with evil. If a person’s psychological/spiritual development isn’t sufficiently evolved, they might need to take flight and avoid the evil demon, lest they get overwhelmed by the monster’s power and be destroyed. In the dream it felt like I would have been way over my head, totally out of my league, if I had chosen to stay and have it out with Dracula. It was all I could do to escape and get myself out of the precarious and soul-threatening situation in which I found myself. It is interesting that it wasn’t my mind, but my bodily, animal instincts that initially sensed the danger I was in.
Vampires, and vampiric entities like wetiko, don’t like it when their covert operations are seen. Just like Dracula in my dream, the last thing the vampiric entity of wetiko wants is for us to be ‘onto it.’ Because it gets its power from operating covertly in the shadows and out of sight, seeing a demon takes away its seeming autonomy and omnipotence. For when we see the nonlocal, transpersonal nature of the vampire, not only do we take away its power over us, but it can also no longer see us. By seeing ‘it,’ we render ourselves invisible to the vampire, who cannot self-reflectively speculate upon the mirrored reflection of itself which we are holding up to it.
The vampiric, wetiko bug is a most elusive creature that is very hard to nail down. Because of my close encounters, I’ve always wanted to write something about vampires that would map my experience in a way that was helpful for others. In the introduction to my first book I tell a dream I had where I was seeing Dracula, and kept on trying to point him out to the other people in the dream, but no one else could see him. That dream has continued to incarnate and transform itself as time unfolds, yet it has been doing so in real waking life. This book is an ‘out’-ing (i.e., an unmasking) of the vampire in the field of our human world, and I feel that over time, as my creative fluency deepens, more and more people are seeing what I am pointing at. It is as if in writing this book I am actually en-acting my dream, and am changing the ending, as if doing living active imagination. [viii] How the waking dream unfolds from here on is truly up to us.
I’ve been creating new art-iculations, such as these very words, to get across and share with others how I am seeing the world. The purpose of this book is to flood light on the insidious workings of this malevolent, vampiric figure that operates under the cover of darkness within the human psyche. As I’ve been progressively illuminating this malevolent entity both out in the world, as well as within myself, it has become apparent that something deeper is revealing itself to me in and through the process. My personal encounter with wetiko has taught me something about the nature of evil─both human and supra-human─that I evidently could not have learned any other way. In coming to terms with evil, I’ve had to see my own stake in it. In seeing my own complicity in the darkness that is playing out in my life, I’ve had to confront my own capacity for evil. This has forced me to reckon with my own conscience, as well as to open my heart.
In another dream that felt so real that it didn’t feel like a dream at all, I am lying in bed next to Dracula, who I clearly recognize as a very dangerous vampire. Unlike the previous dreams, he is not trying to disguise himself at all. We both know what he wants. He’s salivating, simply thirsting for me. We both know that he’s not allowed to ‘have’ me unless I somehow let him. It feels like we are in a battle of wills and of minds, as if my very soul is at stake. Similar to the archetypal myth of Jacob wrestling with the angel, I know I just have to make it to sunrise and then I will be O.K. It feels like it is going to be a long and difficult night; the sun can’t come up soon enough. Then, as if remembering something, I have an idea: I start chanting the mantra of PadmaSambhava, [ix] who is the deity I invoke, pray to and honor in my daily Buddhist practice. PadmaSambhava, considered the Buddha of this very age, is my guru, teacher, ally and protector, my celestial guiding spirit and all-around cosmic super-hero. Ultimately, PadmaSambhava is my own true nature, my intrinsic wholeness, the part of me that’s always connected to what Jung calls the Self. Symbolically speaking, PadmaSambhava is the supreme exorcist and alchemist; the greater the negativity, the greater his power of transmutation. By ‘calling in’ the archetypal figure of the exorcist, I am simultaneously ‘calling out’ the devil. I am trembling and quaking in fear as I begin to chant PadmaSambhava’s twelve syllable mantra out loud in spoken word, waking up my girlfriend, who is sleeping next to me, by the sound of my voice (she then got to listen to the rest of the dream’s soundtrack in real time. It was interesting for me to hear upon awakening how the dream sounded from the perspective of someone outside the dream; she reflected that I sounded absolutely terrified). It’s always interesting to me when I have a dream in which the two seemingly separate worlds, the dream-world and the seemingly ‘real’ world, intersect.
Pencil Drawing by Paul Levy, “PadmaSambhava,” 17″ x 25½” – 1992
Click on image for larger version.
Chanting the sacred syllables, my words are quivering with unbridled terror. As I continue shaking, I keep on repeating the mantra, the sound of which Dracula seems to absolutely hate. The vibration of the sound greatly affects him, as if hearing the mantra is painful for him. Like Kryptonite to Superman, the very energetic presence of the mantra appears to be divesting him of his occult-like super-powers. Saying the twelve syllables is like holding up a crucifix or pouring holy water on the vampire, in that it repulses and repels him. Invoking PadmaSambhava is tantamount to connecting with my intrinsic wholeness, the very state in which I’m protected from the deadly vampire. It is like the vampire has revulsion and disgust for me when I am connected with my true nature, for then it has no power over me.
And then, just like that, the mantra transforms. I spontaneously begin chanting OM MANI PEME HUNG [x] ─the six syllable mantra of compassion─the archetypal quality of compassion embodied in the form of sound. As I continue chanting the six syllables, my fear begins to dissipate, my shaking lessens and I feel more empowered. My attention shifts from solely focusing on the seemingly external figure of Dracula to connecting with my own heart. Slowly stepping out of the fear of being possessed by the evil vampire, I more and more experience being self-possessed, in possession of my self. Other people are now around, and the sense is that we are all taking part in a ritual preparing for Dracula’s demise. At one point, Dracula’s mouth opens incredibly wide like a lion yawning, and I instinctively thrust something into his mouth to block it from shutting. One of the people around Dracula is a very attractive woman, who for a moment catches my eye, as well as my attention. I quickly bring myself back to chanting the six syllables, however, having the realization that she might be a nonlocal emanation of Dracula himself meant to distract me from my task. I continue chanting the six syllables, which appear to be ever-so slowly pulling the plug from Dracula, who looks truly down for the count. It reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West melting in The Wizard of Oz. Before my operation is fully accomplished, however, I wake up. I look forward to seeing what happens as I actively imagine and dream this dream to completion in my waking dream, which, at least in my imagination, is what this book is about.
In the dream, the figure of Dracula was the materialization of the vampiric wetiko pathogen in personified form. The incarnation of the bug of wetiko in full drag, Dracula was at the same time the revelation of this pathology in full-bodied form. Being in-formed by wetiko disease, the Dracula figure was encoded with information; he himself was a cipher of information (in need of being de-ciphered). This is to say that through Dracula’s appearance in my bed, something was being shown to me. The dream was a reflection of a process happening deep within the psyche─my personal psyche as well as the collective psyche─in which I was struggling both with my own inner vampire, as well as the archetypal figure of the vampire itself that exists in potential throughout the whole field. I was literally being forced to come to terms with evil. Or else.
In the first part of the dream, I needed to relate and come to terms with the relative, dualistic level of reality, a realm where there is very definitely good and evil. In the figure of PadmaSambhava, I am invoking the supreme exorcist to alchemically transmute and subdue these dark, destructive forces. Unlike the first dream, in this dream it wouldn’t have been right for me to run away; it was clear that I needed to have it out with the vampire. I was at the place of initiation, my situation couldn’t be postponed. The evil figure couldn’t be wished or visualized out of existence. We were in a fight to the death. If I had tried to prematurely cultivate compassion at this early point in the dream, it would have been a ‘spiritual by-pass’ (something I see many well-intentioned spiritual practitioners doing), a strategy to evade responsibly dealing with the evil that was right in front of me. This pre-fabricated compassion, what Buddhism calls ‘idiot compassion,’ would not have had the all-embracing quality of genuine compassion, but rather, it would have had an underlying, fear-based agenda─let me send this monster compassion so that he would go away. I imagine if I had done this in the dream, Dracula would have mocked me for my transparent, superficial pretense of being a good spiritual practitioner. To not avoid the confrontation with the very evil that I was ‘in bed with,’ I was forced to look at my own complicity in evil. There was no getting around this. Going through and into my fear of confronting the very thing I’m afraid of─my own fear and darkness─and not letting it stop me was a portal which allowed me to enter a more expansive and grace-filled realm. It’s interesting to note that the very presence of evil in my dream was related to my becoming lucid. I wonder how the same process is operative in our shared waking dream.
The six syllables are an expression of a lucid compassion which knows no separation. Once I began chanting OM MANI PEME HUNG, my lucidity─the awareness that I was dreaming─more and more kicked in. As my lucidity stabilized, I began to recognize that there was no external vampire, that the whole experience was taking place inside of my own mind. There was no Dracula separate from myself. As if going through an initiation, this dream was helping me to realize the figure of Dracula in myself─a part within all of us in potential─that, energetically speaking, can be like a vampire. Seeing myself in the mirror of the vampire is what this seemingly external dream figure came to show me.
Instead of staying stuck and being fixated on something seemingly outside of myself that I am afraid of, as the dream unfolded, the point of reference within myself through which I relate to who I am had shifted. Over the course of the dream, the whole focus of my attention had changed; in Castaneda’s language, my assemblage point had shifted. Snapping out of inhabiting a dream in which I existed as a separate self who was vulnerable and needed protection, I stepped into a more expansive dream as I stepped through and out of my fear. At a certain point in the dream I entered the safety of the open heart of compassion, the ultimate refuge and protection.
I first became intimately acquainted and connected with the mantra of compassion when I spontaneously began chanting it the very first time I became lucid in a dream many years ago; or rather, it was as if the mantra began chanting me. Chanting OM MANI PEME HUNG is what I do in my dreams when I know I’m dreaming. When I recognize the dreamlike nature of the situation I am in, I concurrently recognize that all beings in the dream are ‘dream characters,’ seemingly embodied, reflective aspects of myself. And what better thing to do upon recognizing this than to send all the different parts of myself compassion? Lucidity and compassion simultaneously co-arise, which is to say that the natural, effortless, energetic expression of recognizing the dreamlike nature of reality is compassion. Chanting the mantra of compassion is both an expression of lucidity, while simultaneously being a prompt and reminder of lucidity, what I call a ‘lucidity stimulator.’ What this means is simple: the way to deepen our lucidity is to cultivate compassion. OM MANI PEME HUNG. These very words, or anything for that matter, can be seen as a lucidity stimulator, reminders and expressions of the dreamlike nature of this very moment. Getting to the heart of the matter, cultivating such fierce compassion that we’re even willing to confront our deepest fears is the very act that puts a literal stake through the heart of the archetypal figure of the vampire.
Let us begin our investigation and get down to business. We all have a stake in the vampiric business of wetiko. Let’s use it to our advantage.
OM MANI PEME HUNG…
[iii] Please see my article Diagnosis: Psychic Epidemic
[vi] Etymologically speaking, diabolic means that which separates, divides and dis-integrates; the antonym is symbolic, which means that which unites, connects and integrates. Symbols are the language of dreams. This is to say that the antidote to the diabolic evil that is playing out in our world is symbolic awareness, which is to realize the dreamlike nature of our situation.
[viii] See ‘Active Imagination’ in the glossary.
[ix] PadmaSambhava’s twelve syllable mantra is OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG. These syllables are considered to be fully ‘blessed’ by PadmaSambhava himself, the emanation of his wisdom mind in the form of sound. To contextualize PadmaSambhava, the Buddha himself prophesized that an even greater incarnation than himself would soon be born, a second Buddha, whose name would be PadmaSambhava, the Lotus Born. Spontaneously self-arisen during the ninth century in an innately pure physical body directly from the womb of origination itself, PadmaSambhava, who is considered to be the Buddha of this very age we live in, was the actual-ized figure who, by the power of his realization, ‘conquered’ the country of Tibet, turning its inhabitants into practitioners of the Dharma. Transforming the negative, demonic energies into protectors of the Dharma, he founded Tibetan Buddhism. Known as the tantric Buddha, he is the self-originated display and full-bodied incarnation of the nonlocal mind of enlightenment itself. The em-bodi-ment of the dynamic and atemporal process of spiritual realization in-form, PadmaSambhava was, and is, able to engage with this world in such a way so as to transcend time and be able to creatively conspire with us, in the present moment, in our own awakening. To learn more about PadmaSambhava, go to padmasambhava.org