Waking up from History... to Love?
Wake me up from Histr'y, O' Daedalus said
We're falling into Mystery, the dreamer insisted
Seaspawn and seawrack, this tide won't subside
Order from chaos, one hell of a ride
Unwinding the clock as the moon pulls the tide
Analemma-just the nature of time.
[Check below for information regarding the online Evolver Intensive hosted by Darrin Drda entitled, "Awakening the Global Heart Mind," starting April 28 at 3pm EST 12pm PST, 8pm London].
"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake," says Stephen Dedalus in an early chapter of Joyce's Ulysses, a sentiment to which the late Terence McKenna retorted, "history is what we're trying to escape from into dream."
If ever there were a program of graduate study propelled by a desire to chart a middle way between these two sentiments, the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness (PCC) program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) is it. Drawing from "the deep wells of philosophical and religious wisdom together with other scholarly and scientific insights," and from sources ranging from the Western esoteric traditions of astrology and anthroposophy to the studies of scientific cosmology and deep ecology, the scholars of this program leave no narrative brick in the West's story of itself unturned in search of the underlying mechanism supporting the structure of the transcendental alarm clock set to go off at the end of history.
With a profound hope that we humans might awaken from our collective slumber and participate in what Joanna Macy calls "The Great Turning" rather than pressing the snooze button in frustration and rolling back over into sleep as we are often wont to do, program scholar Darrin Drda has recently published The Four Global Truths: Awakening to the Peril and Promise of our Times. The work is on the one hand a summary of many of the narrative tracks studied in the PCC program that characterize our collective peril as the calendar marches inexorably toward the solstice of December 21, 2012, and an invitation to meet these challenges by developing wiser relationships with Self, the Other, and the non-human World (in the largest sense of this term).
Mr Drda's core insight is, in kinship with the contemplative methods initiated by Siddharta Gautama and subsequently developed by the Buddhist contemplative traditions worldwide, that only by truly coming to terms with the reality of our collective suffering (dukkha), can we begin to develop the immeasurable states of joy, compassion, loving kindness, and equanimity that we might wish to more fully characterize the state of the human existence in the wake of history -- whether it be into waking life as Dedalus would have it, or into the dream that McKenna described as the world beyond the transcendental object at the end of history.
Over the weekend of April 14-15, scholars of the PCC program hosted the "Cosmology of Love" conference at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. This conference, now in its fourth year, comes in the wake of the program's development of an Integral Ecology track, and perhaps not coincidentally, reflects a shift in the program's focus from attempts to characterize and provide solutions to the "problem of reality" to diagnosing and inviting solutions to the "problem of humanity." Perhaps the two have always been, like the dialectic between Dedalus and McKenna, two sides of the same dialogical coin (or in more integral PCC parlance, two poles of a complementarity). While any attempt to summarize the diversity of presentations given, and discussions held by, conference participants would be woefully inadequate, what did emerge as an overarching theme was a deep desire to address and overcome our tendencies, both as individuals and as collectives, toward "spiritual bypassing," the attempt to use spiritual practice, or in a wider sense eschatological narratives, to avoid a direct encounter with the emotional wounds and existential insecurities humanity faces as the nightmare of history becomes more and more readily apparent to all who care enough to directly examine the global situation and bear witness thereto.
The scholars assembled, each with their particular lens and area of focus, sought to discern and evoke a sense of the conditions and qualities of human being-ness most worthy of preservation, and whose evocation might enable us to participate actively in the great turning of our age. Unsurprisingly, and in concert with the themes presented in Mr. Drda's book, nearly every scholar professed a profoundly moving encounter with an emotional reality underlying what may have first presented itself as a purely academic or activist concern. In short, the search for the truth of the matter often yielded fruit only in the wake of the seeker's coming into emotional resonance with the heart of the matter.
On this website, and through the many other channels through which those of us concerned with these psychedelically-activated existential questions direct our attentions, we are often invited to accompany some scholar or psychonaut along his or her adventures through the hyperspace of mind, whether on a journey to encounter the late McKenna's self-transforming machine elves dribbling their bejeweled Fabergé egg selves out of the psycho-linguistic alchemical substrate from which conceptually-bounded reality emerges, sliding asymptotically headlong toward Kurzweil's computational hyperintelligences self-compounding into a monstrosity of technological singularity he and others fervently hope sucks us up before the far more empirically-grounded certainty of bodily death does, or some other compelling narrative of disembodied rupture from the gradient between history and dream.
Scholars such as Mr. Drda and others at PCC are challenging us to move beyond these psycho-linguistically bounded imaginings of humanity, history, and eschaton, seeking to evoke more fully the capacity of human-beingness we might wish to awaken from the "nightmare" of history, in radical and irreducible self-defining relation to deeper concepts of self, other, earth, the feminine, space, time, and the divine itself. Or, put more succinctly, moving beyond "tapping into the Gaian mind" (quoting McKenna, emphasis mine) to coming into more full-bodied communion with the Gaian heart.
These, perhaps the most human of our capacities, can only be accessed by a mind grounded in deep participation with the channel of the heart, for while the mind can only approach the eschaton asymptotically, the heart knows synchronically. One can only hope that it is our collective heart that will awaken when the alarm clock that signals the end of history goes off. A heart: that knows the sun will rise on December 22, 2012, that will continue to turn along with the sun's sidereal journey, that knows synchronically, and is the substrate through which the spheres themselves revolve throughout the ages. A heart that has the capacity to embody a profound joy, even in, and perhaps especially because, it has the capacity to face its own death, for it is only on the other side of death that birth is found.
Fortunately, you needn't move to San Francisco or commit to a graduate degree program to join in this discussion. Mr. Drda will be hosting a two-session Evolver Intensive course, "Awakening the Global Heart Mind," starting April 28 at 3pm EST (12pm PST, 8pm London). In the first sessions, Darrin will engage with cultural historian, depth psychologist, and archetypal astrologer Richard Tarnas (April 28) to speak about our current evolutionary moment and the archetpal forces by which it has been shaped. On the following weekend (May 6), Darrin will speak with engaged Buddhist and systems theorist Joanna Macy, whose wisdom and "Work That Reconnects" help us to venture beyond the hyperspace of mind into the innerspace of heart.
The truth of the matter is the heart of the matter
And into their midst fall the ashes we scatter.