Re-Membering in the Web of Life and Awakening Authentic Spirituality in the Mystical Mountains of Bulgaria

Gudevitsa-Bulgaria-View-of-Mountains - The Gift Of Remembering

Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.
My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.
My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?

Sometimes – Herman Hesse

The bus stopped and we disembarked. As I looked around, I knew we had arrived. The fresh clean mountain air and the energy of pristine wilderness surrounded us, as a few individuals, a man and several women, approached us with knowing smiles and a warm embrace. It was them that would be our guides in the journey that followed.

I was in Gudevitsa, a small and remote village in the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria, near the border with Greece. It was a place where I and all those around me would embark on a profound 10 day long experience in the wilderness in order to remember who we were, why we were here and find the meaning of true connection and authentic spirituality.

The Transient Nature of Life

Bogged down by the instant reel of entertainment and stimulation given to me by the modern world, I notice a sentence, a paragraph on a social media post. A piece of lyrics, albeit unintentional, from a song decades old, sung even by my grandparents and preserved till modern time in memory and melody.

It is a song of nostalgia with an air of sadness and regret, a poem in which the passing of old and forgotten paths in the country is lamented, being overgrown by bushes and grass. The lyric becomes a window for me, a window into a world of emotion that I have barred myself entry from, one of nostalgia and sadness at the ever passing and changing arena of life. Sadness overwhelms me and I allow myself to cry. For all that I’ve lost and for all of those things which the river of life will inevitably take away from me.

When we live our lives, full of frivolousness, do we realize, do we ever understand how transient they are? It is in our youth that we believe our bodies, our families, our friends, our world will remain the same. Yet age gradually erodes that illusion. It so brutally and completely shows us how impossible it is to hold on to anything, without our hearts being torn to pieces at its loss. We make connections and lose them, our loved ones pass on, our lives change and so does the very world around us. The old never to be seen again.

Amidst The World’s Storms, An Oasis of Stillness

As we look at the world around us, we may struggle to find hope about how change is possible. We turn on the news and what greets us is one disaster after another, from war, tyranny, disease to pollution – while many horrors happening are not even being reported on, as they do not fit into any prevailing narrative. Perhaps much like the world, our own lives are also in disarray, as we find ourselves bogged down by our own pain and confusion again and again.

But if we look outside and observe a tree, breathe the fresh air or find ourselves staring calmly into the sky, the world seems without problems, without issues, without demands. What is this magic, what is this miracle to see the world as without fault, even in the midst of turmoil? It is like a flashlight cutting through the darkness, not only temporarily lighting up the room, but also dissolving the very shadows with its own light. If we drop our mental and emotional chatter for a moment and just simply remain as we are, we can find respite from any problems, if only for a short while.

A World Caught in Its Own Hubris

Imagine a man. Throughout his days, this person has been living a life of what can only be described as selfish hedonism. The drinking, smoking, blatant narcissism and unfettered disregard for everything around him has ruled his own little world.

He is doing alright in his bubble, until one day he becomes very ill. As he visits his doctor they inform him he has cancer – and it is spreading. Operation and chemotherapy will be required.

The man is dumbfounded. He cannot possibly believe how this has happened to him. Is the Universe playing some unfunny joke? Is God against him and wishes to destroy him? He asks his doctor why he is so unlucky, how could something like this have possibly happened to him?!

The doctor, a high quality physician, is well aware of this man’s life and how he has lived it. He stares at him first in bemusement, then with compassion – is there anything he could possibly tell him to show that his destiny is of his own making? He makes a start, but is quickly rebuffed. The man isn’t ready to know the truth. He does not wish to change his lifestyle, or take responsibility. He informs him when the chemotherapy will begin and schedules an operation. That is as far as he can go. …

Opening Yourself to Life

You sit and wait, holding on for the perfect moment. The perfect time to act, to create, to will your intention into existence. Thoughts of lack, of insufficiency and pain bother you. “How can I possibly do this, I’m obviously not enough, not fit for his challenge?”. You lament for what seems an eternity – and an eternity it might very well be.

But then, something changes. You notice a thought hovering in your mind. A simple idea that a moment ago was you completely now seems to be detached in part, floating as an object in your consciousness. It is the belief that you cannot, you should not, that you will fail. A legacy of insufficiency imprinted into a belief, a conglomerate of pictures, noises and sounds. Emotions might be present, a sense of pain in your chest, your stomach. But above all, the glue sticking it together is the thought, the idea, that simple piece of information you have so deeply identified yourself with.

You feel what you are feeling in the body, the sensations, the feelings, you embrace them fully and allow them to dissolve. The tensions subsides, to a degree. The thought is weakened, but remains. You question it. Is it really true? Or is it a lie you have believed, entangled yourself in for reasons beyond your comprehension?

What on Earth would happen if you simply changed this thought around, believed something different instead – or perhaps even dropped the beliefs altogether, letting something much deeper move you? It is a novel idea, but you manage it. You doubt it and allow yourself to observe it, rooted in presence, seeing it as an object in your consciousness. A different perspective emerges, a deeper energy that is sourced from a place beyond your thoughts, yet has been given room to express itself as the mental narrative impedes it no more. From the depths, a sense of flow washes over you, a sense of stillness colored with courage and vital energy. “Is this possible? Could it be so simple?” you wonder at yourself. Facing what you feel, temporarily dropping your belief and shifting your perspective has opened a gate, it has connected you to something more profound than your limited conception of self. The portal has opened and you let the flow take you forward.

Avoiding a Technocratic Dystopia – Saving the World by Awakening to Our True Nature

Due to a virus, the world has turned a very concerning page. It is a time when lockdowns are imposed with total impunity (while other measures of containment, championed by innumerable medical scientists, remain completely ignored), as wealth inequality skyrockers, and small businesses collapse, leaving the middle class in its dying breaths. A time when authoritarian impositions now seem to be more the norm than the exception (China undoubtedly leading the way in this regard) and mental health in decline, as general feelings of fear and dread help unpalatable solutions suddenly seem like the promised land.

In the meantime, the World Economic Forum, championed by Klaus Schwab is now proposing a Great Economic Reset, which is being gladly accepted by some major leaders. Indeed on the surface it may seem like a good idea – to create a world with less inequality and more respect for nature and its resources. But what on the surface may seem very benevolent, in its depth and potentially resulting conditions appears more like a technocracy, where privacy is stripped away, surveillance and control over the population increased, while power is concentrated even more so in the hands of a select few (that surely we can trust with our best interests, can we not?) – with a digitized travel passport to boot, containing health and vaccine related information for screening purposes. A Brand New World that is completely digital, including money and all forms of information, indeed a wet dream for those hungry for power and control.

Perhaps a completely digital society under a one world government would work with an aware population and a benevolent leadership (both of which are mutually interdependent), but we are not living in such a world – at least not yet.

Our Society Cannot Return to Normal, As It Was Never Normal to Begin With

As a novel virus hit our world and brought it to a halt, exacerbating and often boiling over long simmering social inequalities and tensions while renewing geopolitical and economic uncertainties, many clamor to bring our world back to its previous state.

“The New Normal” portrayed by the media and politicians as inevitable is rejected, while instead a nostalgic yearning to come back to a state of previous normalcy is seen as desirable. While a new status quo based on the desires of an authoritarian few (aka. “The New Normal”) is by no means a desired outcome for the populace on this planet, neither is a return to some seemingly blissful past, one often seen through rose-colored glasses, especially when contrasted by the ever-growing insanity of today.

As the World Teeters on the Edge of Chaos, Awaken to the Freedom That You Are

The planet is in turmoil. The collective’s thoughts and actions have brought it to this place and are pushing it over the brink. The over-consumption, greed, fear, anger and division have been a part of society for millennia, yet have only now come to a true head, becoming obvious for the destructive forces they are. The planet is run by psychopaths, yet even they are merely a result of the collective insanity, a corrupt and unfeeling class placed on top of a rotten pyramid of control.

All the problems haunting our modern world have a root, however. That root is in the primary ignorance, in the unconsciousness of humanity’s own nature. It is the ignorance that comes from a complete identification with form and a forgetfulness of the Stillness and Freedom that lies beyond it.

What am I talking about? I am talking about You. Who you are and what you perceive yourself to be.

The Importance of Free Speech, Its Parallels With Meditation and the Futility of Censorship

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
– John Milton, Areopagitica

Free speech, or the ability to freely speak your mind (especially in a public venue), has had a tumultuous ride throughout humanity’s history. Though there have been strong movements for the freedom of expression dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, in reality it was still very easy to get executed when speaking truth to power, or when going against the cultural or religious grain at the time (Socrates’ death sentence for “subversion of the youth” and impiety [in his case disbelief in the Gods of the state] being one well known example).

From being burned at the stake, excommunicated, imprisoned, fined or even sent to a labor camp, many of the people that comprised our societies throughout history have not been too keen on hearing what other people thought or believed. Though freedom of speech was often idealized in principle, that principle could be (and often was) very quickly swept aside when it contradicted what was commonly seen as correct, true or morally right in terms of the values, beliefs, scientific paradigms and religious perceptions of the time.

In the Era of Noise, Listen to the Silence

“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”

Thoughts enter my mind. A series of thoughts from unrelated events that happened today ― unresolved anger, thoughts about the future, concerns about the world, nostalgia and a cacophony of desires that cannot exactly be pinned down, yet are still there, like a longing for something missing inside my soul.

I become aware. I become aware of my body, of the area surrounding me, the bathroom, my room, my computer. I let go. I listen. First the inner noises occupy my attention, then the outer, then the place where one noise fades and the other arises. Nothing. Emptiness. Silence. Peace.

Our society is preoccupied by noise. It is everywhere. We see advertisements on our buses, on massive billboards. Cities awash with enormous digital screens designed to convey information or inform of a new product. The digital world we have created is itself based on information, a place that many of us use as an escape from the meat-space reality that encloses us. A physical realm which, based on the amount of stimulation present, cannot compare to the ever-more encompassing realms of virtual reality.

We have encased ourselves in information and it has swallowed us whole. Now, the bombardment is almost inescapable to most. Even if our technological devices are switched off and we retreat from the spectacle to the silent allure of nature, an endless barrage of thoughts ceaselessly reminds us how much we are lacking in inner space.

But do we even need inner-space? For most such an idea is folly. The common adage of our society screams at us that it is only through more information, greater complexity of thought, more detailed analysis of ourselves and reality, that we can ever find meaning, purpose, harmony, that elusive contentment and peace of mind.

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