Archive for November, 2018

There is this paradox that we all live with concerning language. As soon as you translate experience into words, you have substantially altered the experience. In essence, you have destroyed experience and created something new: a story. Most of the goals and desires that we formulate for ourselves end up as a narrative: we tell ourselves a story of what desirable looks like for us, and we set about to ‘make’ our desires come true. Our entire culture is based upon the fulfillment of our wishes and dreams. However, our wishes and dreams are by their very nature unreal, fabricated by the mind. We often discover that the distance between our dreams and our lived experience is so vast that we find ourselves disappointed, upset, and even angry; so, we set about to creating new goals. This is especially pernicious and problematic when one’s ego seizes upon a ‘spiritual’ goal and places it on a to-do list. 

One example of this is surrender to God or to one’s Higher Power. This is, undeniably, a good idea. We are not in control of so much of what happens around us, and our illusion that we can influence events, other people, and the general course of History creates intense suffering. What happens, however, is that a good idea becomes the next Spiritual Goal. The ego takes over and applies Material World understandings to God consciousness. The same person who makes lists of future accomplishments for her profession, housing and entertainment needs, perfect partner characteristics, and so on, decides that ‘surrendering to God’ is number one on the Spiritual List. This is an impossible undertaking, since the very act of placing a concept like surrendering or letting go on a list of things to accomplish destroys the goal itself. 

When any aspect of ‘spirituality’ becomes a goal or a challenge for the ‘seeker’, the game is lost. The very moment one decides that one ‘wants’ a spiritual experience, one has missed the point completely and enters into ego territory where everything is a commodity and desire destroys the potential experience. As soon as you start seeking what we all already have, you are wandering far from what you say you want. Looking for God or for spirit in any form is futile; God and spirit are accessible through your state of mind, not the state of your desires. Spirit shows up when you prepare yourself to receive it, or when you are given the grace to perceive it. You don’t ‘find’ Spirit; you become aware of its presence and allow it to work through you. This is as much the case with those who ‘hunt ghosts’ as for those who ‘hunt God’. Whatever it is that you try to track down will evade and elude you; whatever you are ready to receive will find you. Your intentions and your state of awareness matter–your desires and needs do not. 

Serious meditators, psychonauts, healers, channelers, mediums, and shamans enter into trance states with the goal of arranging a spiritual meeting with another. For this to happen, their sense of self is often erased, leading to what some call ‘ego loss’ or ‘ego death’. This state facilitates communication with a higher power, but it not a goal in itself, unless one makes it so. Ego loss becomes the goal when one doesn’t have a larger purpose for their practice, such as learning to surrender to situations and people over whom we have no control. When ‘ego death’ becomes a goal in and of itself, the ego has–ironically–taken over and made a spiritual state into a challenge. The ego loves challenges and competitions; especially ‘spiritual’ challenges, because the ego’s desires can hide behind the cloak of a ‘higher purpose’. This is why spiritual leaders can become criminal despots or moral disasters: think gurus who lead their flock to commit suicide (Jonestown) or priests who molest and abuse children who trust them. Although these are extreme examples, anyone who enjoys the window dressing of spirituality and makes a show of their enlightenment has fallen into the same trap. 

My epiphany of late is simply this: there is nothing to seek and nothing to find. There is much to accept and to embrace. And yes, you have to voluntarily place yourself into a state of grace in order to receive the gifts of a multifaceted and multidimensional reality that includes everything that people seek: ghosts, God, aliens, Oneness. This requires an alteration in perception. Your stories, your drama, your upsets, your grudges, your ambitions, and even your intellect and critical thinking skills will all block you from the experience of a complex and ultimately incomprehensible reality. Do not attempt to understand or explain Ultimate Reality. If you do, you will fall into the trap that consumes me on a regular basis: the idea that one can explain and convince others to believe the existence of what we call the ‘paranormal’. 

What is, after all, the paranormal? The paranormal is what the ego, what the individual self, cannot explain or make sense of with our current scientific or philosophical paradigms. The paranormal is that space where we hit the wall, where our language breaks down, where we can no longer make reality intelligible for ourselves, much less for anyone else. It’s that space where we live. It’s who we are, but are afraid to admit it. For nothing is stranger than the fact that we exist and perceive ourselves to exist in isolation from everything and everyone else. There is no journey; simply a remembering of something ineffable that we always seem to forget. 

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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When the Guru Vanishes

What then?

It’s pretty annoying to realize that I have spent hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of hours working on something that has no answer. I don’t wish to complain, but when the ultimate goal of the ‘spiritual’ search is for that goal to implode and destroy itself, I feel like I was swindled or the butt of a massive joke. 

Seriously, folks. This blog was all about that. I thought that I would end up with something true and evidential. I believed with great sincerity that Kirsten A. Thorne would be the person who revealed what is reasonable to believe in based on science, philosophy, religion, quantum physics, and various types of psychology, from transpersonal to abnormal. I looked at university programs and doctoral programs in Scotland, scouring catalogs for courses and degrees that would confer respectability to the search for immortality. Of course, I spent a great deal of time hanging out at churches and talking to priests. I also interviewed gurus and all kinds of spiritual leaders. Of course, there was always the ‘ghost hunting’ and everything that came with paranormal investigating. When you hit one wall after another, you eventually give up on finding the Holy Grail. Everything, as it turns out, is paranormal. When your entire reality is revealed as spiritual and eternal, what is there to look for?

I read hundreds of ‘trip reports’ from people’s psychedelic experiences. I scoured the literature for fantastic meditation stories. I have read so many damn ‘spiritual’ and New Age books that I am sick to death of the topic. I’m happy that a snake swallowed you in your last Ayahuasca journey or that you visited the Lower Realms during a shamanic drumming circle, but what does any of that mean for anyone besides you? And that is where we all get stuck. It’s great that individuals end up feeling enlightened or finding their personal answers. I’m happy for all of us that have managed that, however we arrived at that point. But part of me keeps thinking how narcissistic the spiritual path seems when it always points back to you. 

I’m starting to think that there is only one real purpose to the ‘spiritual’ experience, and that’s to connect you to others and your natural habitat in such a way that you show up more and care more. It’s so you call in sick less to work and are a better friend. It’s about less wallowing in your depression and anxiety and more creative relationships. It’s about making decisions based on love, not fear. 

As far as ‘finding’ God, the Holy Spirit, Buddha, Jesus, ghosts, UFOs, aliens (I don’t mean to say that all these categories are equal), or whatever other wild, paranormal phenom out there, those spirits ARE RIGHT HERE, in your current reality, in your universe, and don’t require any searching. It may require some intense discipline and dedication, but all things spiritual are built into the very structure of the material. There is no separation. There is no ‘place’ to look, and no particular practice to follow. Be a Catholic or take mushrooms and go to Burning Man. You will eventually end up coming to the same conclusions (that comment should outrage some of you, I’m guessing). 

Whatever you do, make sure you do it with love and respect. What else can I possibly say?

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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How to Give Up

shallow focus photography of multicolored floral decor

Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

I won’t list all the tragedies. We know them too well. We are quiet as we struggle to live with mass murder on a weekly basis. What can we say? What can we do? Whom can we blame? We are tired of looking for reasons, sick to death of the political arguments, exhausted from listening to the news, from the endless social media posts, the photos, the interviews, the grieving, the candles, the prayers, the stuffed animals, the crosses, the funerals, the waiting for the next massacre. It will come. It always does, these days. What does it mean to surrender? Simply this: know when you can do something, and know when there is nothing to do but accept the reality of our and your circumstances. Once your limitations become clear, do what you can and let the rest go. I won’t pretend the God has some ‘plan’ in place here, or that all this death has ‘meaning’ that we simply can’t comprehend. I don’t think God is a personal force, some being that intervenes or doesn’t based on some code that I can’t figure out. I don’t know what God is, but I do know that our circumstances are ours to fight, to struggle with, or to accept, no matter how awful. Surrendering is not about passivity or blind acceptance of situations and events that you could do something about if you had the strength or will; it’s about realizing that there are some scenarios where you have zero ability to influence the outcome or change the consequences. When confronted with situations that you didn’t have a hand in creating and can’t change, let go. Stop trying to fix things, change things, or influence their inevitable path. That giving in is not giving up. Surrendering means that you have the energy to comfort survivors, to work on a PAC, to write poetry, to publish an article, or to simply reflect into the world the peace that you hope will infuse our sad, troubled, little planet. –Kirsten A. Thorne

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