Please watch this video as an introduction to Module 2.
The following video is the conclusion to the movie The Pursuit of Happiness. Some things cannot be expressed in words.
A Map to the Next World
In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map
for those who would climb through the hole in the sky.
My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged from the killing fields,
from the bedrooms and the kitchens.
For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.
The map must be of sand and can’t be read by ordinary light.
It must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.
In the legend are instructions on the language of the land,
how it was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.
Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the altars of money.
They best describe the detour from grace.
Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; a fog steals our children while we sleep.
Flowers of rage spring up in the depression, the monsters are born there of nuclear anger.
Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to disappear.
We no longer know the names of the birds here,
how to speak to them by their personal names.
Once we knew everything in this lush promise.
What I am telling you is real and is printed in a warning on the map.
Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us,
leaving a trail of paper diapers, needles and wasted blood.
An imperfect map will have to do little one.
The place of entry is the sea of your mother’s blood,
your father’s small death as he longs to know himself in another.
There is no exit.
The map can be interpreted through the wall of the intestine —
a spiral on the road of knowledge.
You will travel through the membrane of death,
smell cooking from the encampment where our relatives make a feast
of fresh deer meat and corn soup, in the Milky Way.
They have never left us; we abandoned them for science.
And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world there will be no X,
no guide book with words you can carry.
You will have to navigate by your mother’s voice, renew the song she is singing.
Fresh courage glimmers from planets.
And lights the map printed with the blood of history,
a map you will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.
When you emerge note the tracks of the monster slayers
where they entered the cities of artificial light and killed what was killing us.
You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder.
A white deer will come to greet you when the last human climbs from the destruction.
Remember the hole of our shame marking the act of abandoning our tribal grounds.
We were never perfect.
Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth
who was once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.
We might make them again, she said.
Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.
You must make your own map.
2.0 Dreams, Altered States, and Questions
2.1 Your True Identity
Who are you? Who am I? What is reality? Michael Meade does not ask these specific questions as he speaks in these short videos, but I do believe he arrives at answers. You are a genius. It is a natural part of being born in human form. Western society wants us to view ourselves as flawed, as if something is wrong with us that needs fixing, as people who have sinned. Shifting your orientation can be difficult. Take refuge in knowing that you are implicitly whole and no one, not even yourself, can take this beauty and wonder from you. Your genius. Then consider the three levels of reality: the logical, the psychological, and the mythological. A world that is practical and can be measured, a world that is all about relationships, and a world where something eternal is pulling which leads to radical transformation. Finally a story with holding the thread of life.
2.2 Dreams and Reality
In Module 1 you were asked to keep a dream journal to track your dreams. You can think of dreams as emails from your higher self. Interpreting your dreams takes practice but it is part of your natural genius to realise their meaning. Before looking at ways to understand your dreams let’s look at the types of dreams you may have. This list is not exhaustive. Deep within yourself there is always a reason for the dream.
- Recurring Dreams: The dream may be one from earlier in your life such as your childhood or it may be one that has repeated over your lifetime. This type of dream is very important. The dream is saying hello and your higher self is asking you to look at something again.
- Nightmares: You may not want to write these down. These are the dreams you have to write down. These dreams point at aspects of our experience we have separated from or buried. Carl Jung spoke of putting things in the shadow.
- Portal Dreams: This is a dreamtime doorway between the non-ordinary reality of the middle world and the ordinary reality of the middle world where we live our daily lives. You are learning to understand reality beyond your conscious mind. An example would be visitations of those ready to die or those who have died.
- Guidance Dreams: Receiving guidance that was asked for or that comes unbidden. This is the dream version of taking a shamanic journey in waking life and asking your guide a question.
- Warning or Prophetic Dreams: Dreams about the future. You are not causing the future, you are moving outside of linear time and thus able to perceive future events. This is an important type of dream to have and in traditional societies you would be recognised as a leader or shaman.
Your dream may not easily fall into any of these types. That’s fine. Now let’s look at how to interpret your dreams. There is not much value in dream dictionaries or lexicons since these are just someone else’s interpretation of objects or events in your dream. Sure there may be some truth in them but learning to interpret your own dreams is far more powerful and meaningful. You can make your own private dream lexicon.
Ask about the meaning of the nouns. This is called “opening the images.” (Remember you work with mythopoetic image). Your dreams speak in the language of images. What does this person mean or remind you of? Write a sentence to describe them. It is not the specific people but their qualities and affect on you as a child or now.
Carl Jung found three symbols/images that could be interpreted similarly across dreams: house, vehicle and water. The house is a symbol of the self. Maybe you are exploring aspects of the self. Characterise the rooms. The vehicle is how you drive or travel. What is the state or nature of your vehicle. How do you travel in the world. For example if you are riding a bike may symbolise your independence. What if you are the passenger in a car? What if you are the driver? What if you are riding a bus? What if you are the driver of the bus? Water is often our emotional state that we are unconscious or not aware of.
Finally Fritz Perls had an idea that everything in the dream are all aspects of yourself. A gestalt. This does not work with every dream. Dreams are also a language of visceral knowing. How did you feel in the dream?
The writer Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a novel in the 1970’s called The Lathe of Heaven. A man who dreamed was able to alter reality with his dreams. His psychotherapist discovered this talent and tried to use it to better the world. In this interview Ursula speaks of writing the novel, what she called a Taoist novel and its adaption into movie.
There is a story of a Chinese man who falls asleep and dreams he is a butterfly flying above a field of beautiful wildflowers. Upon waking he is no longer sure who he is. Is he a man who dreamed he was a butterfly or is he at this very moment a butterfly who is dreaming he is a man. I am not asking you to fall prey to magical thinking. Your dreams and your imagination (accessed through mythology and creativity) are very real though. Everything that exists in this world has been imagined: houses, cars, computers, countries, songs, movies, money, etc. Your dreams are a powerful form of communication. Listen to them. Learn to translate them into your everyday reality.
2.3 The Four Noble Truths
“Somewhere in this process you will come face-to-face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way and you just never noticed. You are also no crazier than everybody else around you. The only real difference is that you have confronted the situation they have not.” – Henepola Gunaratana
Perhaps you think of your dreams as something made up or just your imagination. Here you are awake in everyday reality, as real as you can be. I already asked the question once, what is reality? In Module 1 we briefly considered emergence, the morphic field, pattern integrity and the implicate order. Then in this module we considered your genius, the three levels of reality and the thread of life. And finally dreams.
In the quote above Henepola Gunaratana is speaking of what happens when one wakes up from suffering to their true nature. I am not here to proselytise a religion or to convert you. For many Buddhism is a religion and a devotional path. Buddhism is also a philosophical path, a technology that can be used to understand the mind. Its goal is the happiness of all beings. Buddhism says everything is knowable. It is very experiential. Try it for yourself, don’t take my word for it. Application of this knowledge is liberation from suffering. What is suffering? Buddhism speaks of four noble truths:
- An unexamined life is suffering.
- Our suffering is caused by attachment, aversion and misknowing.
- It is possible to emerge out of this suffering.
- The path out of suffering is to follow the eight-fold path (a series of engagements for the mind).
Buddhism in Tibet was exposed to the shamanic Bon tradition of the Himalayas and so incorporated those practices into Tibetan Buddhism. The path out of suffering encompasses both the tools of meditation and what we call the shamanic journey. Practicing either puts us into an altered state. Meditation is helpful in calming down the thinking mind and giving us a perspective on the noise of the mind – “the shocking realization that you are completely crazy.” Module 1 of the Purpose Discovery Program introduced us to the simple practice of following our breath. This is a form of meditation. There are other forms of meditation but we will not examine them for now. I want us to focus on the shamanic journey and how it can help us with interpreting our dreams.
“We cannot and do not end pain, but we can and do end suffering. We end suffering by ceasing to identify with what we are not, a pattern that interprets experience as separate and other, and then operates to control or justify its own imagined existence.” – Ken McLeod, Wake Up To Your Life
2.4 How To Form A Question
As you begin to write down and to interpret your dreams you begin to examine your life. You will not know that everything means. You will need and want to ask questions. One of most important preparations you can do for a shamanic journey is to form a good question to take with you into the journey. After writing down your dream you can do some interpretation of your dream asking yourself its meaning. Eventually you will arrive at one or more questions. A good question is usually not a “why” question.
Two of your first journeys will be for a dream guide and a shamanic journey guide. They will be your teachers and accompany you on your journeys. You may already have a shamanic journey guide from doing the Animal Meditation in the Purpose Discovery Program. For meeting both teachers you will journey to music that induces an altered state (such as a drumming track). You will go to either the lower or the upper world and as you meet a being ask “Are you my guide?” If the answer is yes you can spend time with your guide and then return back the way you came. If not continue your journey to find a teacher.
Once you have your shamanic journey guide you can take a single question into the drum journey. When you return take a moment to write down your experience. The journey itself may lead to more questions. You also may have several questions and thus several journeys from a single dream. Take your time with this and let your inspiration guide you. The goal is not to get every question answered, the goal is to gain a better understanding of yourself.
You may also practice what is called “incubating a dream.” This is like doing a drum journey, except you are taking a question into your dreams. Can you take a question into a dream? You may not even believe this is possible at first. Give it a try. Like some who feel they cannot remember any of their dreams it just takes practice.
Finally I will touch briefly on lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when you are “awake” in your dream and have full control in your dream just like you do in waking life. Sometimes the practice of incubating your dream with a question leads to lucid dreaming. Tibetan Buddhism sees lucid dreaming as one aspect of what they call dream yoga. You have your spiritual practices of waking life, your yoga. No distinction is made with sleep. Lucid dreaming is taking spiritual practice and meditation into your dreams.
The following practices are suggestions for furthering your integration. Dream interpretation is a practice I have introduced. The other three practices are from Brody Hartman.
3.1 Dream Interpretation
A new practice for you is dream interpretation. This practice is done by forming questions based on your dreams and then journeying to drum music to alter your state or incubating your upcoming dreams with a question. Supporting you is your guide, your teacher, that you have connected to by journeying to the lower or upper world.
Here is the single drum track to use for journeying. At one point you will hear a change in pace. This is the callback to return the way you went. Finally you will hear a change in pace signalling the end of the journey.
This practice also works for you waking life. The Purpose Discovery Program has brought a lot that was unconscious or hidden to the surface where your conscious mind can perceive it. This perception is done through images and symbols. Becoming proficient in working with images and symbols is also becoming proficient working with your dreams. Adyashanti speaks of the soul as a translation layer between your true nature and your egoic identity. By learning to listen with our souls and allowing ourselves to surrender to our mythic identity we awaken to our true nature.
3.2 Second Soul Date
Meet again and help one another craft, refine, deepen your purpose statements using the purpose math equation: (Mythopoetic Identity/Giveaway) + (Benefit to your people/world). Strive for precision now. Craft with poetry later.
3.3 Rededicate Your Purpose Altar
- Clear and clean your altar.
- “Check-in” with every item you removed from your altar and inquire if it plays a role in helping you integrate your mythopoetic identity.
- Find new altar items that speak more directly to your souls’ cohering image.
- Reassemble and rededicate it in honor of your mythopoetic identity. Offer a prayer and create a ceremony with the intention of coming into deeper relationship and understanding of your mythopoetic identity.
- It’s perfectly fine if you aren’t clear about your soul’s image or if there are multiple images you are exploring from the SoulQuest and Purpose Discover journey. Simply rededicate your altar with the intention to help you discern this image. Find totems, “allies”, touchstones, wayfinding altar tools to help you listen for this image.
- This time around, as you create your altar, consider the concept of proxemics. Proxemics is the sacred organization of people, objects, and spaces. Consider which objects are calling to play a central role vs a supporting role. Which objects feel as if they need to be placed next to one another? This is a practice of attuning to both the explicit and the implicit power of objects.
3.4 Imaginal Expression of Your Mythopoetic Identity
“In one soul, in your soul, there are resources for the world.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Soul can only be known and understood when it takes a form. Poetry, painting, dance, the creation of sacred ceremony, music making, mask making etc. are some of the ways people have been giving birth to soul’s images and bringing spirit down to earth for thousands of years. The image above, which was recently discovered in Indonesia, is estimated to be about 44,000 years old!!
Choose one (or multiple) of the following invitations to give brith to your mythopoetic image. This exercise is not about craft, perfection, or creative skills. It’s about allowing yourself to be a channel for soul to manifest through you in whatever way it longs to be expressed. If the inner critic arises, just know it’s another form of ego’s resistance wanting to maintain the status quo. Play. Be wild and raw.
- Make a mask of your mythopoetic identity. (Look up mask making craft supplies on Amazon—lot’s of fun materials and pre-made elements to work with / or go to a local craft store).
- Write a poem.
- Craft a collage from found images and words (Pinterest, magazines etc.).
- For those who’s soul image is related to music, I invite you to let soul speak through your instrument and record it for the group. Voice, harp, drums, rattles, kazoos:) are all welcome here.
- Construct something in nature as a totemic expression.
- Get some art supplies and let your hands move.
- Any other imaginal expression that invites you deeper into the mystery. How does Listen want to be expressed?