Every ignoble and discordant act you might possibly commit that classifies you as less than an exemplary citizen is prompted by either fear or greed or both.
Fear of the stick and greed for the carrot is how you and your ancestors have been subject to external control for countless generations. This time-tested management approach can only work if your level of consciousness is approximately that of a beast of burden. It has little or no effect on those who can think independently and originally.
How, you may ask, does one achieve independence and originality of thought after decades of conditioning via our parents, our schools and universities - indeed, our entire cultural matrix which serves to format our minds so we can't help but identify with a specific race, religion, football club or political party?
KNOW THYSELF: this admonition inscribed in gold on the portico of the Apollo Temple at Delphi has existed for perhaps 25 centuries and has been variously attributed to Pythagoras (right), Socrates, Solon and Heraclitus. Some authorities say the inscription ought to read: "Know Thyself - and thou shalt know all the mysteries of the gods and of the universe."
In any case, Gnothi Seauton or Know Thyself is central to the teachings of the Hermetic philosophers whose tutelar spirit, Hermes Trismegistos, was revered as the incarnation of Thoth, Egyptian god of scribes, and Hermes, messenger of the Olympian pantheon. Thoth and Hermes form the axis of the Western esoteric tradition and the mystery schools they established have much in common with the Eastern esoteric schools initiated by Gautama Buddha, Patanjali and, later, Padmasambhava.
They essentially teach that the path to liberation is very narrow and admits only awakened individuals, not the sleeping masses. What this implies is that you can only arrive at a true understanding of the divine by becoming a fully conscious human - in other words, a Buddha.
You can't do it by subscribing to a religious doctrine or prepackaged belief system - no matter how devout or pious you appear to be to others - or believe yourself to be. Being generally law-abiding, driving on the "correct" side of the road, and strictly adhering to a set of prescribed observances doesn't make you a fully conscious human being.
Whether you're a church-going Christian, sutra-chanting Buddhist, bhajan-singing Hindu or Koran-reciting Muslim, you're unlikely to break free of your cultural and social formatting unless you turn your attention inwards, towards your own core being where you can reconnect with your Essential Self - which is what makes you unique as well as universal as an incarnate soul.
In the 13th century the famous Sufi poet, Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi (left), kept these esoteric teachings alive in his works, effectively bridging the Eastern and Western mystery traditions. And yet, Rumi is more popular in the West than in the Middle East or Malaysia where Islam predominates. Why?
Most orthodox religions frown on and often vigorously persecute the mystical cults within their midst. Public behavior can be monitored and regulated by external authority but not private investigations of the numinous and the transcendental.
That's why these ancient practices are branded as "deviant" and those caught are subject to harsh punishment - the way "heretics" were severely tortured before being burnt alive at the stake by the Spanish Inquisition (which, incredibly, lasted from 1478-1834). It's revealing that in this day and age even harmless, peaceable cults like Ayah Pin's Sky Kingdom in Terengganu or Li Hongzhi's Falun Gong in China have been viciously attacked by governments insecure about the power they exert over people's private beliefs.
But how relevant are these mystical notions in the frenzied hurly-burly of the post-industrial age?
For those who feel trapped in the 3D Matrix of endless production and consumption, the way out is really the way in. It's more a process of unlearning old programs rather than learning new techniques or disciplines. Each program you manage to manually override, bypass or uninstall is one impediment less to your own enlightenment and liberation from the soul-destroying, will-sapping treadmill of business-as-usual.
Now that ancient esoteric wisdom and cutting-edge science appear to be converging, we have the benefit of a whole new range of conceptual tools in the form of more precise terminologies with which to remodel our perceptions of reality.
Terence McKenna ranks among the most eloquent of spokesmen for the emerging vision of a world radically transformed by the alchemical union of science and mysticism. Described as a "writer, philosopher, psychonaut and ethnobotanist" by Wikipedia, McKenna dedicated his life to researching plant-based entheogens, sensory and neurological exciters like psilocybin and ayahuasca - and achieved a consummate understanding of the intimate links between art and shamanism.
Allow me to quote at length from Terence McKenna as he discusses his classic work, The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, and the End of History:
"...what we need is a new myth, what we need is a new true story that tells us where we're going in the universe and that true story is that the ego is a product of pathology, and when psilocybin is regularly part of the human experience the ego is suppressed and the suppression of the ego means the defeat of the dominators, the materialists, the product peddlers. Psychedelics return us to the inner worth of the self, to the importance of the feeling of immediate experience - and nobody can sell that to you and nobody can buy it from you, so the dominator culture is not interested in the felt presence of immediate experience, but that's what holds the community together.
And as we break out of the silly myths of science and the infantile obsessions of the marketplace, what we discover through the psychedelic experience is that in the body, IN THE BODY, there are Niagaras of beauty, alien beauty, alien dimensions that are part of the self, the richest part of life. I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature. What the Archaic Revival means is shamanism, ecstasy, orgiastic sexuality, and the defeat of the three enemies of the people. And the three enemies of the people are hegemony, monogamy and monotony!
Now you may be wondering what all this trippy stuff has got to do with the way ahead for Malaysia...
And if you get them on the run you have the dominators sweating, folks, because that means you're getting it all reconnected, and getting it all reconnected means putting aside the idea of separateness and self-definition through thing-fetish. Getting it all connected means tapping into the Gaian mind, and the Gaian mind is what we're calling the psychedelic experience. It's an experience of the living fact of the entelechy of the planet. And without that experience we wander in a desert of bogus ideologies. But with that experience the compass of the self can be set, and that's the idea; figuring out how to reset the compass of the self through community, through ecstatic dance, through psychedelics, sexuality, intelligence, INTELLIGENCE. This is what we have to have to make the forward escape into hyperspace.
Well, the universe is an interconnected, interdependent network of dynamic interactions. Our identities are not at all static. They evolve as we mature. Even as we attempt to define ourselves as individuals, we are being defined - or confined - by our immediate environment, our familial and societal ties, our national ideologies, and everchanging geopolitical scenarios.
Terence McKenna's personal obsession with "escape into hyperspace" is just his way of investigating possible escape routes from the entropic 3D Matrix.
McKenna's switched-on way of thinking illustrates the unpredictable non-linearity of evolutionary solutions. Our so-called future may resemble nothing of our so-called past - indeed, it rarely ever does!
Many of us are in the habit of driving towards the future while gazing into the rearview mirror of the past. This might explain why humans rarely notice until it's way too late the 20-wheeler truck coming straight at them from the opposite direction. Isn't that reason enough to start acquiring 360-degree peripheral vision?
Where Malaysia is headed (Part 9)