Decartes said "I think therefore I am." If I think too much does that mean I am too much? Ten years ago I wrote this to put certain concepts straight in my head. I start to think I start to write, this and several others were never meant to be read by anyone other than the odd friend who was interested; it sits in a book I call "Philosophic & Martial Scribblings." It was from this 'book' that I decided to rewrite my theoretical concepts on martial arts & publish as some sort of magazine or book & add a bit of Shaolin history and well that led to the creation of MY monster. Any way dusted off & tweaked up a bit here's some more heavy weirdness for your monster. RJW
The Dream World
The most terrifying thing about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent. However vast the darkness, we must provide our own light.
-Stanley Kubrick, 1968.
The only constant in the universe is change. *This is true of our day to day lives, going about our business never knowing what's going to happen next and it is true on the most basic principle. Is matter solid & connected or merely illusion, one manifestation of a larger order? On the quantum level matter seems to need our participation; a photon in a closed box could be anywhere or every where until we observe it, and then it acts as a particle in one experiment and waves in another. Matter appears to need our active observation of measurement to make it decide how to behave. This of course sounds like madness; solid is solid how could it change? To tribal people this is the very reality with which they live.
The Australian Aborigines believe in two streams of reality, what we live in now & the Dreamtime1. The Dreamtime is an English translation, a time beyond that which we can understand, the Aborigines call it The Law. First there was void, this was broken by memory, then sound, which created form, which is perpetuated by singing to keep the memory, and so this (reality) is the manifestation for the moment. The songs are passed down from the Ancestors, singing creates vibrations which cause the shape of a place, once a place is created the people move on making a Songline, singing at various places, helping that particular place hold the memory of its shape. Compress sand into a ball and the ball is made up of little grains of sand, thus the world is made up of little places of reality. Singing— vibrating, an on going flexible process that can create form and hold it for a time; reality is maintained by the tone of the song, it isn't solid but is held together through the interaction between people, animals, and the Dreaming. These Songlines map out the land; these places have Lian— the life force of a place, or what we might call intuition. A man walking “feels” his way across the land, he can't see the spirits, the people from the Dreamtime, but he can feel them. ‘Don't walk that way, maybe there's someone over there with a spear, better to go in this direction.’ The Old Ones haven't exactly told him but he can feel them in the land— Lian. These things the Aborigines have known for 50 000 years.
In the southwestern United States the Navajo create the world anew each day. To a Shaman his Hogon, his home, is the center of the world. To him if you know your home you know everything. Each morning the Shaman starts his day the way the world began: first there was thought, then speaking, then movement. He chants the world into existence, his songs come from the Original People, who came from under ground, and were passed down through the generations.
Unless you think there is no word. Unless you speak there is no world.
Unless you move there is no life. To walk in beauty with all things
you must connect with all things; the spirits are in all things. Live your
life lightly like a bird, walk in beauty outside and you will walk in beauty inside.
-Billy Yellow, Navajo Medicine Man.
Language is not a mirror of reality; reality is a mirror of the sacred language.
Another interesting aspect that some North American tribes believe is the idea that when a Brave kills a stag or a bear he receives some of that creature's power, part of its spirit.
The Navajo also create sand paintings, much like Tibetan Buddhists. However the Buddhists create elaborate mandala (wheel of life, the simplest form of which is the swastika, which can also be found in Navajo culture, possibly brought over from the land bridge millennia ago) out of sand, then brush it away to show the impermanence of life. Navajo use the sand painting as a gateway to connect our world with the spirit world.
The Gabra, of Kenya East Africa, are a nomadic desert tribe. They have something called Finn. Finn is earth and the cycle of life that takes place upon it. It actually means fertility & plenty; humans contribute to Finn as we care for the earth. Gabra wanderings are part of a constant cycle of creation & replenishing: looking after live stock, nourishing friendships, exchanging ideas, telling tales & singing songs.
In Mexico the Huichol speak a language that is pre-Aztec. Caught between Christianity and the old ways they make a pilgrimage each year for fear that if they don't the world will end2. They pray not just for themselves but for Chinese, Europeans, Americans... they pray to balance the world. When a great sickness came upon them the spirits worked through both the doctor & the Shaman. The doctor gave the Shamans son medicine to cure the symptoms, but the Shaman had to cure the cause. His people had paid homage too many male things, not enough female, father sky & mother earth, there needed to be balance.
The Chinese have the Dao. One begot two, two begot three, three being all things3. For them there was first thought, and then form, they didn't worry about where the first thought came from, it just was. As the Daoists say: stop at what is unknowable.
Zhuangzi once dreamed he was a butterfly, or was he a butterfly dreaming he was a man? Where does “the Dream” come from? From our mind. Our mind is dualistic; it is the way we understand our universe. Shaman, teachers of wisdom, split the world into reality & Dream (spirit world). Tribal peoples understand this, the real world & the Dream, one defines the other, and they live in harmony with both. The Shaman guides his people, teaches them to live in harmony with the real world & explains the real world using the Dream World4. Where do we go when we die? Where did we come from? The same place, we simply cross over, and other beings from the Dream World cross into ours, but you must be sensitive to their presence.
Reincarnation. Our soul goes into the Dream World & comes back. Both Tibetan Buddhists & Philippine Catholics believe that the spirit remains with the body for a time after death. Catholics pray over the body for nine days to send the soul onto Heaven5. Tibetan Buddhists read from the Bardo Thotrol, or Tibetan Book of the Dead, for 40 days, guiding the spirit so that it does not become trapped in its own illusions and can find a good life when it returns6. These illusions are caused by Karma7, which is an endless series of cause and effect, or in Newtonian terms: every action has an equal & opposite reaction, which determines whether you go to Heaven or Hell (both a Buddhist & Catholic concept) or returns to a better or worse life in the real world where the whole thing starts all over again. The chanting of the Book of the Dead helps guide the spirit, helps it seek truth rather than illusion in the next life. Buddhists do not believe in the Atman (eternal soul) like Hindus, so what then is reincarnated? Not a soul that is "you" but a continuous stream of Dharma8, what I will call life force, like water it continually flows and changes, freezes and evaporates, can fill any container, but is still water.
Thought/dream, sound, movement, form, this is how we came to be, according to the Shaman/Sages. Wind, the music of heaven & earth; like a bellows the space between heaven & earth is the supreme emptiness through which Dao flows. Fifty thousand years ago the Aborigines of Australia knew all things were made up of smaller parts, today—protons, neutrons, electrons, waves... The North American aborigines knew that all beings are connected that in killing the bear part of its spirit becomes you; cannibals in reaches far from North America believed this as well. The Huichol pray to bring balance to the world. All are trying to preserve the real world through the connectedness of all things, to live in harmony with all things, and know who you are. Not name, rank, serial number, who your birth mother was (adopted children often want to know who their biological parents were, as if that will give them identity) but who YOU are. In many tribal society babies don't often survive the first few days, they are fragile and easily taken by evil spirits so are not considered human until several days after birth; but you know who you are by where you are from, who raised you and told you your stories, your songs about where your people came from; history yes, but also your connection to this world by harmony with nature, and to the Dream World. In Buddhism the Great Awakening is when you realize all is illusion9, and if all is illusion then why not a Dream World? Why not spirit beings from the other side? What's the difference between one illusion and another, (our) reality & Dream? Many tribes without contact, yet having similar ideals of spirituality. Carl Jung spoke of the collective unconscious, perhaps these ideals sprung from that. Perhaps the collective unconscious comes from the Dream World, where did the first thought come from? God? In Tibetan Buddhism they chant Om mani pade me hum. Om & hum are sounds/vibrations, mani pade me means, “jewel in the heart of the lotus”, or seek truth in illusion.
How to break through illusion? How to stop reincarnation— the circle of death & rebirth? All must become one. Grains of sand in the desert make up the parts of a sandcastle— my atoms, atoms from the sun— what difference? My spirit, the spirit of the bear— what difference? We create realities to define ourselves, if we stop defining and dissolve, like pouring 1 cup of water into the ocean it becomes One with it, not one cup of water among many trying to define itself. No longer is there a mind to get trapped in its own illusions for there is no Dream World to go to and return from; ALL is illusion, this world, the Dream World is the same world.
There are many jewels in many illusions, many truths in many realities. I do not see the forest spirits, but that is not to say they are not there. Our “civilized” world does not see these things, we've trapped ourselves in the illusion of science, cut ourselves off from trying to become One with this world & the Dream. Thus we have lost part of ourselves, we've traded one reality for another and lost our connectedness, which means we think we are right and have no need to seek this Oneness; only we feel we are missing something and are trying to get back to this tie with the Dream World tribal societies have. In the “civilized world” we were exiled from the Garden, tribal societies never left. The Daoists say that you must experience the world before you renounce it, learn knowledge so it can be discarded for wisdom; existence and non-existence, the wise man looks beyond.
1-Question: “The Australian Aborigines have an oral tradition of a time, before the creation of the world, & they call it, the 'Dream Time.' Does he (Ghost Wolf) see us returning to this point?”
“We ARE returning to "Dream Point." When we go through the shift.....the Hopi have told their children that, "when these days come, you are to go inside your houses & close the doors." Many of the Lakota people have told their children to, "Go inside the sweat lodge & close the flap & don't look outside. Things will be happening that will drive you mad. You will not understand it & you will not be able to deal with it, so go inside some natural structure, go inside the sacred places & shut out the light, shut out what you are seeing." We are going through, again, this dimensional shift, which everything that we have ever created in our thoughts is existing out there. There are those rather naively say, "Well, there cannot be these evil spirits & dark things out there." But, we live in the world of Man, & man created that, so to man, they are realities.”
-Robert Ghost Wolf
2-After prayer, dancing, chanting & fasting they search for peyote, the hallucinogenic food of the gods. They become One with the Ancestors, fused with the universe. The Huichol also fear this time as they are tempted to remain in paradise, if they are not strong enough to return (to our reality) their souls will be severed from their bodies & they will die. In our “civilized” world drugs are not sacred, not respected and too many people’s souls are severed from their bodies.
3-Fu Sze Taiji diagram or diagram of the natural universe:
Wuji (ultimate nothingness)à Beginning of Taijià Yang & Yinà Taiji
In the beginning there was nothing. Then force gave rise to the 2 forces of the Yin & the Yang, their interaction gave rise to the myriad things. Dao Te Jing.
4-Wisdom is found in the past, in the long tradition of the race. The teacher is the Elder, he is closest to those things of the past that are important; ceremonies often start with, “it is said…” For tribal people, life is One, and the sacred is very real. For tribal peoples of North America the circle governs their thought & action, it is basic in nature: the shape of moon & sun, wheeling stars, rotating seasons, the actions of birds & animals. Essential to the circle is its centre, from that point it is created. It is reflected in all the dances around the fire, drum or pole, & in ceremonies such as the sacred pipe. Tribal people also reflect upon the two-ness of life & nature. North American natives symbolize this by a divided circle, as in the Plains shield. Nature presents itself in pairs: dark & light, hot & cold, male & female, good & bad. These are not contradictory but complementary. Case-studies in Primal Religion/ Case-study 11: North American Indians. J.W.E. Newbery. Eerdmans’ p.165.
5-Philippine Catholics also hold a Death Anniversary for 9 years; they celebrate the anniversary of a person’s death continuing to pray for the soul to reach Heaven.
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Proverbs 4-23.
6-The Tibetan monks read to the dying person to prepare them for death and after they have died they continue to guide the spirit.
Smonlam (Tibetan) often translated as prayer literally means “wish-path.” It is not a request to an external deity, but a method of purifying & directing the mind. It acts as inspiration by arousing the mind’s inherent desire for good, which attracts the fulfillment of its aim.
Elements: Energy which has the quality of the elements, 5 elements= 5 Buddhas or “he who has become one with the essence of what is.” Stages to enlightenment.
Earth- Physical, living logic becomes vague, you lose physical contact.
Water- You reassure yourself your mind is still functioning.
Fire- Emotions, you think of some one you loved or hate, something vivid to hang on to.
Air- Openness, love/hate becomes hollow.
Space- Luminosity, you give in. Oneness, pleasure & pain become the same. The dualistic struggle of trying to BE something is completely confused by the 2 extreme forces of hope for enlightenment & fear of becoming insane. When you cease to struggle luminosity presents itself.
7-Karma: Action or works; the law of cause and effect; is the quality which shows itself in the thoughts, words, and deeds of an individual. It determines the nature of the individual’s rebirth: good works automatically bring about a good rebirth, bad works a bad one. So each rebirth is conditioned by the karma of the previous life. This is the moral order of the world, from which no one can escape.
8-Dharma: Not only moral law but also the physical laws ruling the universe; indeed it also denotes the individual parts which make it up. Examples of these dharmas are the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air; the colours and sounds; organic life; the senses, emotions, impulses of the will, the power of reasoning, consciousness, ignorance; fame beauty, riches, true and false teachings; sexuality, sleep, hunger, illness; growing, aging and dying.
It is impossible to classify these dharmas in any systematic way. The main point is that the physical world and everything in it results from working together of these separate components. So while it seems that the human being is an independent unit, this is only an illusion. The person is actually a flowing stream of dharma, which continually changes and which after death rearranges itself to form a new individual.
Thus the teaching of Buddha does not recognize the Hindu idea of the self (atman) which remains constant through the cycle of rebirths. It is fair to ask whether the one who has died and the one who has been reborn on the basis of his karma are not in fact two different beings. In one sense this is true, for there is no immortal “soul” to link the two. Yet at the same time, the new incarnation is inseparably bound by the karma it inherits, and which it will now express. Eerdmans’ p. 230-231.
9-Illusion is the belief that things remain the same. You can't step in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, nor are you the same person. Each moment that passes changes us, cells die, are shed, new cells divide replenish, bacteria lives & dies inside us, blood constantly pumps through our harts, air molecules are breathed in an out. You are grumpy when you awake in the morning, but happy when you reach work, hungry before lunch, satisfied after, tired at night. Each moment is born & dies; we go through many changes. Our perceptions of reality die as we progress down the Path and new ones are born in their place, we constantly die & are reborn each moment, some are more momentous than others. Awakening is a great rebirth.
Eerdmans, Willam B., editor. Eerdmans’ Handbook to the World’s Religions. Lion Publishing, 1982.
Fremantle, Francesca & Chogyam Trungpa, translators. The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1992.
Jou, Tsung Hwa. The Tao of Tai Chi Chuan: Way to Rejuvenation. Warwick, N.Y., Tai Chi Foundation, 5th printing, 1988.
Maybury-Lewis, David. Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. Viking Penguin, 1992.
Video (10 hours)
Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. PBS, Co-Production of Binman Production Ltd., Adrrian Malone Productions, Inc. KCET, Los Angeles & BBC TV. In association with the Global Television Network & Telefilm Canada, 1992.
*The opening paragraphs on quantum experiments, the Australian Aborigines, Navajo, Gabra & Huichol are mostly the words of David Maybury-Lewis. I have done this to boil down 10 hours of videotape & 397 pages to put certain concepts straight in my own mind. This is not meant to ever be published as an academic paper in this form.
- Written by: RJ West