"It's not a spectator sport!"

Coming back from the Rainbow Gathering I am left with many impressions. That was a lot of people! A lot of people who want to change the world. And yet, I am struck by the reality that the world cannot live the way that people were living in this high Montana valley. The only reason the Rainbow Gathering can happen at all is because everybody stays only a few days, and then goes away. Human beings make an impact on the ground, and we make an impact on each other. There is no way to get rid of this impact. Even minimizing it is questionable. The big question for the 21st Century is how do we, as human beings, make our impact a work of art itself? Can we be a vibrant part of the world? How do we make the places where we live the most beautiful places on earth? How do we find a truly new way to live?

I'm not even going to talk about why we need to change our way of living. Anyone reading this essay is probably aware of the global pollution which is affecting the planet, and of the ugly way in which our huge population is treating each other. I'm not as much interested in talking about what is going on, but in talking about the possibility of something different. More importantly: how do we envision something different if the mechanism which controls our visions (our mind) has been created by the same forces which have created the human world the way it currently is. How do we step completely out of ourselves into a new beginning?
Throughout history many tribes of people have tried to break away from society and model a new way to live. It's been done over and over again throughout recorded history, and probably before that. A common thread amongst these groups is that their prime motivation comes from being against something. Another common thread is that they did not make any significant change in the overall society itself.

We have a record of the Essenes at the time of Christ who moved out into the wilderness and lived very minimal lives encamped in caves in the wilderness. They were protesting against the political/spiritual family which had come to power in Jerusalem and were cooperating with the Romans. They were waiting for a messiah to come and help them change the world. During the Jewish uprising, approx 70 AD, they rushed out of their fortress and were promptly massacred by Roman Troops.

Another example is the many "tribes" of Christians who colonized America. These people were living in protest against the political/spiritual powers of the time (what we would call the "Feds") and daring to be different from cultural norms. Persecution by the "Feds" drove them to head out on a terribly dangerous journey across the ocean and struggle to build lives in the wilderness. Like the Essences many of these groups had some very good ideas about how to live in community. Like the Rainbows they shared a common belief system and actively promoted that system amongst themselves, rejecting those who did not wear the same clothes and profess the same beliefs. Yet when we look at the history of the United States, we see these small, self sufficient communities engulfed in the rush of progress and economy. There are still some small groups, such as the Amish, who manage to continue living in the old ways, but I'm looking for something which will really change the way the whole world runs, not just a pleasant little community that I can go live in and feel good about myself.
So my question: Is that possible?

Another common way that people have tried to change the world is through revolution. Someone is in power, and someone is oppressed. With much difficulty and courage the oppressed people manage to get together and take over. The result, if they win, is that they then are in power. They gain wealth and the ability to oppress others and use that ability ruthlessly. The only real change is that different people are now wearing the big hats.

There are some religious movements which have made a deep impact on society. In 600 BC a very quiet man, whom we call the Buddha, managed to capture the hearts of thousands and actually move them into a new and more dynamic way of relating to their own minds, and thus to the outer world. This new way of living was like a flower which spread throughout the eastern world and enlivened societies. But it was a bit too passive. This new way managed to ignore certain needs of its own citizens, and avoid the change of the world around it. Overpopulation and revolutions in this part of the world are now creating chaos.

In 30 AD in the middle of the world (what we call the middle east), small groups of "hippies" who formed around the sayings of a charismatic spiritual leader managed to grow into a large political power within 300 years and take over the known world. What started out as Jesus people meeting in secret rooms lamenting Roman power, and then the destruction of the temple, became the driving force behind Constantine's army and the spiritual/political power in Rome. We can debate hotly whether the world power of Christianity today holds to any of the beliefs and motivations of the original Jesus people.

In 600 AD a very strong man with inspiring visions managed to unite the Arab world under the banner of one God. Under Mohammed a whole new way of life was born, which also has not lived up to the pressures of modern society. All these movements get captured in the past, and seem to have great difficulties dealing with our complex present. Can something else be done?

Don't get me wrong. Revolutions and religious movements, happening over and over, have brought us to our current state of affairs where the everyday person has a little more say about what will happen in his or her life. We have a lot more individual power than people have ever had before. But we are using this individual power with the same mind, for the same type of destruction which can come about from political power. Up in the valley with the Rainbow gathering each person only had one pair of feet, yet the ground was pounded dead by the huge numbers. It will grow back because the people all leave. What about the places where the people keep living year round?


In the book Black Elk Speaks, he talks about the destruction of the circle of life for his tribe of people as they were being destroyed. With a very poignant vision he could see that the native people knew how to live in the circle of life, and that the white people did not. He could see, with a wounded heart, that if this circle was broken, then it would be very difficult to put back together. Black Elk was a simple man who had been raised within the circle. His mind and his heart had been created from within this circle, and the images that he spoke with came from this place. We, here in the year 2000, have minds and hearts that have been forged from outside of this circle. Even if we believe that Black Elk and his people have something special in their spiritual system, even if we try to put that system on by mimicking gestures and words, we will miss something. We can't steal pieces of a broken circle and expect it to nourish us. We have to recreate our own circle out of our own ashes.

The circle of life is so difficult to put back together because it has to do with our very deep conditionings. Conditionings so deeply embedded that words cannot be put to them. These are the unspoken rules by which we live. Much like the child of an alcoholic who knows the unspoken rule that they are never to speak about the strange stuff that goes on inside their family. It is practically impossible to get this person to change their behavior later in life because all the threads of their life are built around the unspoken rules of their family. They can look honestly at their own lives, and know that their reactions to things don't make sense, but still they go on repeating the same patterns. They can change the type of clothes they wear, the type of job they do, the spiritual group they belong to, but the same habits will come out in come out with just a different color.

Our society today is like the child of the alcoholic. We see that we are living destructively, but every attempt at change is no more than changing our clothes and pretending we are acting differently. And this is not new. We have conditionings that go back so many thousands of years we cannot even find the seed of their beginning. People have been rebelling against these conditionings for as long as they have existed. Still we go on repeating the same behaviors.


Human beings were forged, down to our minutest details, in the wilderness of Africa. We are the perfect tribal creation. One of the things that makes us work is our ability to stick to our beliefs. Mother Nature's beauty comes in her consistant nurturing of life forms, which is fueled by her relentless destruction of those same life forms. If a tribe of people hit on a poor way of living the relentless forces of the jungle simply ate them up and no one else would even know about it. If a tribe hit on a workable way of living they would grow and prosper and their very existence proved that their way is the right way. Sticking passionately to this way of life would then insure future success. This is why we have the ability to stick to our beliefs. In the big scheme of things it has nothing to do with right and wrong. There may be a million right ways, and a million wrong ways to do things. Each successful tribe hit on its own right way of doing things, and through our ability to soak up unspoken rules the successful way was passed down through generations.

Each way was a total whole, a circle. Each tribal history could hold itself together with each piece leading to the next piece until you are back at the beginning. A tribal way cannot work if it is pieced together. Without all the elements of the way, it will fall apart. A good example is the Sherpas in Northern India. Mountain climbers found them to be excellent porters to carry their supplies up the mountains because they seemed to be immune to malaria. It turns out, after close study, that they are not really immune to malaria at all. They have a religious code, which is very strick, and which dictates all their dealings with water. They will not camp near standing water, and will not allow any container to stand upright in a way which can collect water. Mosquitos breed quickly and stay relatively close to home. The fastidous nature of the Sherpas with water makes sure that there are no mosquito breeding spots near their living quarters. Thus there are few mosquitos, and they do not get malaria. If someone came in and taught them that their belief systems were superstitious and converted them to a modern religion, they would fall victim to malaria. In fact, they would probably be effected worse than the rest of the population because they don't have antibodies to malaria, since they never get it. Break the circle and you never know what will fall apart.

Each tribe of people, by the simple fact that they exist, once had a way that was a complete circle in itself. Problems started when these diverse tribes grew to the point where they could clash with each other - each tribe convinced that their way of life was the right way. And they were right, their way was the right way. Each way could turn to destruction if new elements were introduced into it. The instict is to stick fiercely to your way of life! That's why we do it.

More problems arose when people started owing land and growing their food. Tribal instincts did not work as well once they were stuck to a certain location. The whims of nature operate differently on a people in a set location then they do on a people who can move as the winds change. Suddenly nature seemed unpredictable and even cruel. Gods sprang up as the mediary between the tribes and the heavens. People stuck to their gods as passionately as they used to stick to their Way. As these cultures met and clashed more problems arose. The resulting cultures used the bandaid approach in putting together their ways of life: an idea from here, another idea from there, until most of our unspoken rules cannot be traced back to the source. The circle of life is broken.

The reason I am telling this story is to point out that, today, we don't know how to live. All our conditionings come from a broken circle. We survive as a species, and are abundantly fruitful, because we have learned how to harness all the smaller forces of nature: water, soil and fuel. We are only just learning in this century that the larger forces of nature are still going to get us. Global warming, ozone destruction, UV rays, poluted air and water. We do not have a tribal problem to solve any more. We have a global problem. A revolution against the powers that be is not going to make a difference. It will only put a new theory into power. Today we need a total rebellion against the inner forces of our conditioning. This will be a rebellion against our own selves. We have to find a way to step beyond the very deepest unspoken attitudes we have about life and stand in a completely empty space. We cannot grasp the circle of life with our minds because our minds have been created by the ancient roots of our society. We cannot go back to the old because the old is the seed that grew into now. Words cannot describe what the new place will look like because our whole language was created by the old mind. With courage we can stand in the empty space and start gathering the seeds of a new way of living.


So how do we create a significant change in ourselves. How do we assist others in doing the same? These are big questions. It can't be a change that we just think about, because that will be nothing more than the old mind putting on a new set of clothes. It has to be a change so deep that it is permanent.
To this point, everything I have written is to help us understand something vitally important: As we stand today we cannot trust ourselves to create a viable future. I am speaking to each individual: you cannot trust yourself to do something truly different unless you first create a radical change within yourself. I don't care how beautiful your philosophy or belief system is: it still comes from the same seeds of conditioning which created the ugliest war.

This is a very important and different point. I am not saying that if we only had enough love the problems would be solved. I am not saying that if only we had a proper policy the problems would be solved. I don't say the problem is the Federal Government and war machine, global warming or polution. I am not saying that the problem is established religion, I am not saying that the problem is with capitalism or money, I am not saying that the problem is even us. I am saying that the problem is something that is down inside each of us. Something in there that we can't see. It is invisible because it is so common to our way of living that we don't notice it. Trying to see it is like trying to see the back of your eyelid when you shut your eye. It is an imposter pretending to be a circle of life, yet it isn't. It's invisible and secret and lurking in each individual, we stick to it fiercely and so it drives all our established religions and, yes, the Federal Government--because the religions and government are made up of people! Even our attempts to change into better people are driven by this ghost--that's why we fail.

If anyone can stop for a minute, and accept that these statements might be true--it is a scary thought. How do we fight and conquer something that is invisible and secret? How do we do anything at all if the mechanism which drives our doing is the problem in the first place?

It seems an unsolvable conundrum.

Fortunately there is a solution, and suprisingly the solution is very simple: we look the beast straight in its face and it disappears. But, unfortunately, trying to talk or write about the solution is practically impossible because the mechanism which created our language, is also the mechanism which created the problem.

Let me state the problem again in other terms. The problem is that we don't know how to live. Pure and simple. More specifically: we don't know how to live in a way that is sustainable with the whole planet and which makes the places where human beings reside the most beautiful places on earth. The reason we don't know how to live is because our "Way" of life has come to us from a broken circle. Our conditionings, and therefore our reactions and responces to any situation come from this broken way.

Mending a broken circle takes a tremendous effort because each person must be willing to step out of their certainty, out of the certainty that believing in a 'way' brings, and live with the rawness of life long enough for a true way to be found. This is too big of a thing for an individual alone to do. The sufi mystics have a saying, "Inshallah." It must be done with God, we are in God's hands. This is a saying that has a lot of truth to it.


We do have a little bit of language that we can use to talk about the solution. There have been many people, throughout history who have broken through the conundrum of their own minds and become free of their conditionings. We call these people enlightened. Other religions have considered them to be saints or profits. We also have a word for the invisible thing which lurks inside and drives our action. We call this the ego. Unfortunately these words can also be used for other things. Psychiatry uses the word ego in a very different way to describe that force of will which we can use to do the things we must do. Sometimes enlightenment, saint or profit is used to refer to someone with a very cleaver ego (in the second sense) who is able to attract large crowds of disciples and teach what is nothing more than a more beautiful version of the same conditioning problem.

So I don't even want to go there with that terminology. Instead of ego, let's call that seed inside of us which causes us to constantly repeat similar behaviors our conditionings or our blind spot. Let's refer to a person who has dropped the cloak of these conditions as a clear individual. Let's call the state of being clear, freedom.

Before we go any further I would like to make several points very clear.

One: Simply dropping our conditions and becoming clear and free will not save the world from any of its problems. This is just the first step and the point where the responsibility to create significant change in the world starts. It is only the clear individual who has the tools to start facing our problems.

Two: Your friends cannot teach you how do become clear- all their activities will be geared to keep you the same as they are. No matter how good their intentions, they cannot show you clarity from their blind spot. Even spiritual teachers cannot help much. Only a very few spiritual teachers can show the way--99% of spiritual teachers are just selling the old story in new flowery words. If your friends and teachers agree with you as you attempt to change, then you are probably going in the wrong direction. Do not discuss these things with most people because they will steer you wrong. One of the most seductive driving forces behind our ability to operate from our conditiongs (which kept us safe in the wilds of Africa) is the feeling that if large numbers of people agree with us, then we must be right. It doesn't matter how stupid of a thing it is to believe in--like Hitler's Nazis--if everybody else is going for it with gusto, then it feels right to us. Don't fall for this trick. Keep your spiritual discoveries to yourself, face everything that everyone else says with a grain of salt.

Three: Don't trust yourself at first. The final goal is to trust yourself completely, but in the beginning you are your own worst enemy because you don't know what is coming from conditionings, and what is coming from truth. The most common New Age belief is that we should all choose the spiritual path which "feels" good to us. If you operate on this theory then you will always choose the path which does not stir up anxiety in your conditionings. If it "feels" right, then it is probably the same old story.

Four: AND MOST IMPORTANT! If you are a spiritual teacher of any kind you will never be able to get it. Ever. And I mean spiritual teacher of any kind--even if you are the type of person who likes to sit around with your friends and discuss solutions for the world you are preaching from your conditioned philosophies. But especially if you do some activity which promotes a spiritual position - and most especially if you make a living doing this -- you have put yourself in a position where you can never create significant change in yourself. Becoming clear shatters all theories because those theories came from the seeds of your conditioning. If you are out selling one of these theories, you probably won't be willing to drop it. Even if it is a theory as simple as believing that all people should live in love. That is enough of a barrier to keep you enslaved to your conditionings forever.

Those are some pretty harsh statements. I don't make any appologies for them.


How do you undo yourself? How do you pick yourself up by your own bootstrings? A question which has perpelxed true spiritual seakers for generations.

Read more about my journey to the Rainbow Gathering.