Turkish Bus Stop

I took a semester off of college to travel through Europe with my friend Eric. We ended up spending two months in Turkey. When you give yourself multiple months in a country and minimal destinations, you experience “going with the flow” in whole new ways.
One day we decided to buy a bus ticket to a city about 5 hours away. And then get off somewhere in the middle.
I don’t remember the name of the town we stopped at but I remember the experience.
The town was not along tourist routes and had no ruins or guidebook claims to fame. We may have been the first Westerners to visit. They were certainly entertained by us and impressed by where we came from.
“California!? Baywatch!?” We were practically celebrities.
We enjoyed tea with some locals and then were taken to the local high school where an English Class was underway.
The class practiced their English as we played Question and Answer for about 20 minutes.
At one point a child asked me what I studied in school.
“Psychology” I answered.
The room was puzzled. They turned to the teacher for help.
I said again, “Psychology?”
The teacher looked a little embarrassed. I went to the chalk board and wrote out, “Psychology.”
“Oooooh! “P’Sycology!” She confirmed, pronouncing the P.
“Yes, P’sycholgy!” I replied. And we all moved on.

Later in the trip I was talking to a man with very good English and Psychology came up again.
He had no concept of the word. When I tired to explain it to him, I was stumped.
Are you familiar with Freud?
“No.”
Hmm. Well, you know how sometimes when you do something, you have motivations beneath the surface that you may not be aware of?
He looked at me like I was a crazy person. I quickly realized how much my worldview was influenced by the ideas of a subconscious and the concepts of basic psychology.
What a massive idea this is: That your thoughts are not infallible. That “what you think” is not nearly as clear as it may feel.
Looking back at the 20 years since that coffeehouse conversation, I can see how much of my path has been about exploring the “P’sychology” of my everyday thoughts.
How much of “who I am” is a result of socialization? And how much of “Who I am” is something deeper? How many of my reactions are scripts? And what percentage is genuine?
Sometimes when I struggle with my thoughts I remember those months in Turkey. I remember that understanding the way we think is an exceptionally elusive goal. In fact, “knowing that I can not know for certain” may be the best we can do.
And even after 20 years of study, I often feel like that man across from me in the tea house. And I remember that when it comes to getting to know who you are, all of the study, labels, and books are pale substitutes for getting off a bus in the middle of nowhere.

10.31.11

Hug Nation podcast – Why Pink & Maps Oct 24

Why Pink?

Maps

“Why Pink?”

Hug Nation broadcast about “Why Pink?”

And a blog entry about the same thing:

Taken in 2000. Featured in "The People of Burning Man" book http://thepeopleofburningman.com

“Why pink?”

It is the question I get asked most often, after, “What are you doing in the women’s bathroom?”

I first embraced pink as an intentional confrontation of male stereotypes. It was an anti-macho statement to reject defined gender roles. It was an attempt to chip away at the ridiculous notion that you can judge a book by its cover.

It began with pink clothing at Burning Man, but seeped into my default world, and eventually the color of my hair. I’ve been some degree of flamboyantly pink for over 10 years.

Pink at SXSW 1999

Because of the pink, I also get asked alot, “are you gay?”
I have a few ways I like to respond, but none give a straight answer. (pun intended.)

If it is an honest question, I usually say, “I don’t like to box myself into a category of straight or gay or bisexual. I’m just ‘sexy to the core.’ And I’ll sleep with whomever I feel a connection with.”

The reality is that 99% of the time it is women who give my shivers and tickle my insides. But politically, I’m bisexual.

When someone asks in a more attacking way, I say, “I’m very flattered, but I’m not available right now. I’m in a wonderful relationship. And unless we’re potentially going to hook-up, I can’t see how my sexuality is relevant.”

When the attacks are meaner, I have to bit my tongue and not share the sexual escapades that this “faggot” has been privileged enough to experience… in many ways *because* of his comfort with his feminine side. I just practice being defenseless.

Pink has been good to me.

I can still remember the fear I had when I was a kid. The thought of being called “gay” was terrifying. I would have said anything, worn anything, and acted in any way to make certain that my sexuality wasn’t questioned.

Shazbot!

It is for this reason that I avoid answering “Are you gay?” with the quick dismissive, “no way!” that I practiced as a child. Nobody should feel like answering an honest question about who they are is a admission of something negative. There should be no “right” answer to that question.

Who could possibly think this stud was gay?

Through the years, pink took on much more meaning for me. Pink has all the love and affection connotations of red, with none of the aggression. This makes it a perfect color to represent hugs, and so it became the theme color of Hug Nation.

During a talk about Pink with my grandpa one day, I also realized another unifying aspect of this color: We are all pink on the inside.

Just this week I learned a NEW reason to love pink. I was shown this cool little video explaining that there is actually no such thing as pink light. It is a combination of a little red and a little blue. The color spectrum ends on one end at infa-red and the other at ultra-violet. The place where pink might go is actually the band between the colors that contain ALL the other waves of the universe: Gamma waves, microwaves, etc.

So all this time pink has also been representative of all things unseeable in the universe. Wow.

Having pink hair had another unplanned effect: It became a moat. Without speaking my appearance would instantly repel or attract people. I wasted no time with people who were close-minded or uninterested in connecting with someone outside-the-box. At the time it drew people in that were bolder or different.

It instantly labeled me as someone without a traditional job or mainstream values. It became a filter – or walking ice breaker.

(You can find Splat! in Walgreens & Walmart)

People sometimes think the pink hair is evidence of my social nature, but often the opposite is true. I use it as a crutch to hide my shyness. It protects me from having to approach people, and shelters me from rejection. By the time you have crossed my pink moat, I usually know that you are outgoing and accepting.

The last 2 years I have shaved my head and gone brown (my natural color) for several months. The experiences have been powerful. The switch has allowed me to step back into using the color as a tool instead of a crutch. A cape instead of a mask.

during a pink-break

And as festival season has now finished, I’m ready to be brunette again.

This time I have a new reason for shedding the moat. I want to connect more. I want to be the change I want to see in the world in a more personal way.
I want to look more people in the eyes more. I want to smile at more strangers. I want to be a stronger force of love in the world in my day to day life and my interactions with fellow human beings.

I set out on this task and realized that I felt a bit confrontational at times. Perhaps having a pink mohawk is not the best uniform for this task. Not everyone wants to make eye contact with someone who has intentionally cultivated an “outsider” appearance.

Perhaps it is time to look more “monk” than “punk.”

taken during a pink break in 2009

I have some fear about loosing my plumage. I like feeling different. I like making a statement before I say a word.

But hopefully I’ll make a statement now with my loving eyes and friendly smile.

I’m sure I’ll be pink again in the future. But occasionally you have to turn off the porch light so that you – and others – can see the stars.

-Halcyon
Oct 25, 2011

taken Jan 2010

“Not to be Believed”

“Not to be Believed”
I entered Heaven.
Of course, nothing like Heaven as it is painted. But I’m sure any description of Heaven could have existed there.

What I saw was a perfection of color pattern and sensations. Most things were made of segmented “bricks” of colored light. Not uniform in size, but fitting together perfectly, like the scales on a snake.
Every part of this heaven world moves incredibly fast and my mind can barely register- in fact if I try to focus on something specific in the rapidly moving scene, I get the message, “you don’t need to DO anything. Just receive.”
All shapes are rounded and geometric. Everything moves with precise fluidity – like robotic octopus tentacles. Lot of gold and white light. At times I – or parts of my body- are submerged in the color/light/liquid. There is a gravity that makes me feel held down…I want to relax every muscle and surrender fully.

It feels like everything is perfect. Perfection in sound. Perfection in visual delight. Perfection in sensation.

It is though some higher consciousness – with a creator’s understanding of my brain – has taken control of my synapses. I am experiencing pure delight in every way – and experiencing some sensations that I didn’t knew existed.
Something akin to a body orgasm + the feeling of swallowing a big gulp of water while thirsty + the elation of winning the 50 yard dash in 6th grade.

I feel as though my body is motionless – yet I am moved quickly around. Like I am being carried by this light. Like a living conveyor belt of liquid, translucent gold.

This first portion of the experience is beyond mind. There are no lessons or teachings that my human brain can grasp. It feels more like a peek at something. Perhaps a preview.
Perhaps it is like a divine, “Now downloading, please wait” graphic as deeper awareness – beyond conscious thought -flows into me.

Later when I have more control of my mind, I try to process, I find myself puzzled: Does this experience exist solely in my mind? Or is this experience trans-dimentional? Was that an internal or external experience of the divine oneness? In the end, it does not matter. Whether it exists within the cosmic DNA of my physical being, or in some other portion of the unknown universe – it does exist. Even as an idea = it does exist. And if it does exist, then the boundaries of the universe must be redrawn.

***

The intense portion of the experience ends rather abruptly after 10 minutes. But is followed by a longer period where the memories are vivid and my perceptions and thinking are coated with the golden bliss. Like my mind and body are covered in a lubricant of pure light and love.

The thoughts that run through me seem to bridge the 2 worlds. I keep my eyes closed and speak. What I share to others in the room has nothing to do with my experience in the light…but is influenced it.

I see the beauty of the human experience. In contrast to the perfection of the golden light, the human experience has a perfection, too. All the sorrow and trials and love and elation are perfect. The highs & lows of human roller coaster are a different part of perfection. The perfection of duality. Pure love – heaven – golden bliss – is, well, perfect. But it could get boring.
And in all the Universe, I would guess that the human experience is among the least boring.
So, as the All-One, non-dual, cosmic consciousness, why wouldn’t I spend a few millennia experiencing the gorgeous drama of humanity?

Just as we can delight in a horror movie…
Or enjoy the joy and frustration in a child’s soccer game…
Or happily work towards the success of a project for work…
We can enjoy the game of life.

Being human is all about participating in these small human dramas and letting ourselves feel the tension of it. We enjoy it because you know it isn’t truly “real.” We know that it will end.

But any of these things can be horrific if you forget that you have taken on the experience by choice.

We can enjoy all the struggles of our human lifetime – knowing that they, too, will end. We allow ourselves to fall into the experience so that we can feel the intensity of it.

*** Innocence Lost ***

Socialization is the process of being taught a worldview. We are indoctrinated to believe that the culture – not anything internal – is the source of our happiness. Our jobs, our status, & our bodies are what is important.

This is taught.

A child doesn’t require the guidelines of socialization to seek their bliss. As they grow up, they are given layers of beliefs that cover up and stifle the divine heartsong.

This isn’t done with malice. On the contrary, we do it with love. Parents, teachers, & preachers all feel the responsibility of teaching a child how serious it all is.

At some point, we cross the threshold and go from following our heartsong to following the rules and trying to fit it. (or perhaps NOT fit it – but usually as an act of rebellion – not by following our heartsong.)

This is the moment we bite the apple and leave the garden of Eden.

We begin to care what others think. And, unfortunately, the “Other” in our society is A zealot with faith in the Commercial World. Things like the correct brand of shoe, job title, and the ideal % of body fat become the guideposts on our map.

*** Maps ***

But some things must be understood about maps:
A map is not the landscape. You can not understand the Grand Canyon by studying a map of it.
Following the ten commandments will not make you happy or get you into Heaven. Any sacred teachings – whether religious or cultural – are just maps trying to point us to joy. They are fingers trying to point us to the moon. But as the Buddhist say, “Do not mistake the finger for the moon.”
This is especially important because of the second thing to remember about maps: They are not infallible – they contain all the innocent misunderstandings and malicious misleadings of those who made it.

Maps should always rank second behind our inner truth. Our inner heartsong. Our divine light. There is a tiny metal filing inside us that – when we tune into it – feels the gravitational pull towards Source.

Towards compassion. Towards love. Towards service.
Towards an awareness of being connected to all things.
Towards an awareness that Joy is the only guidepost to trust.

All maps. All external faith. All well-intended teachings.
Everything of the world must be seen as a finger pointing to the moon.
But it is the iron filing inside – and the pull it feels towards the moon – that is our ultimate compass.
Among all the distractions of the world, the gravitational pull of the moon seems miniscule. And without practice, it may seem to not exist.
But along your path you will meet people who feel that pull with absolute certainty. You will know them by the walk they walk and the peace in their eyes. Do not accept the words they say as truth – words are just maps. Let them be as helpful as they can be – and no more so.
This includes these words you are reading now.

The Buddha said to mistrust all teachings. He had the right idea. Or maybe he didn’t. Listen to your heartsong for the final word.

*** How ***

The process of amplifying your heartsong – and by that I mean the map as I see it – is one of Gratitude, Surrender, Acceptance, Love, and Service.

It starts – and continues – as a process of looking critically at your existing worldview. At first you may not know where to look because it feels the “The way it is,” But I assure you it is only a map so ingrained in you that it seems like truth. Start to ask, “Why do I want to do this? Why does this anger me? Why am I judgmental in this instance? What would be the risk of being more compassionate or generous in this moment?”

*** Media ***

Turn off your television. Remove advertising from your life as much as possible. The goal of advertising is to trick you into thinking that a product or service will help you towards the moon. And in order to do so, it must convince you that you are off track. You are not thin, rich, or clean enough.

Entertainment is not evil. But most marketing is.
Make no mistake, media is not your friend. And with the way that corporations and media are so intertwined and consolidated, the sophistication by which we are fed this misleading map is intense.

*** Baseline **

The world is amazing. It is filled with so many miracles that we stop seeing them. We adjust our baseline to think triumphs like running water and peaceful streets to be taken for granted.

Make primary goal re-adjusting your baseline. Reset your set point so that you can find joy in the common place. I assure you that bird song, blade of grass and sleeping baby you walked right by are as amazing and god-affirming as the grandest spectacle. Don;t let the media steer you into believing what they think is amazing.

Make gratitude lists. Share examples of gratitude with friends, or strangers.

*** Practice ***

Maybe you live in the woods, growing your own food with fertilizer made from your own excrement. If so, how are you reading this? Turn off the Computer and get back to your farm!)
But most of us choose to live – to some degree – in the modern world.

And by doing so we must work hard – and consistently – to fight back the tide of false maps. We must turn away from misleading media and turn towards our heartsong. We must spend time with books, lectures, people, sticky notes, meditations, yoga, nature, & lovers that remind us of truth and amplify the gravity of the moon.

Thank you for being an amplifier of my heartsong. Thank you for being a part of my journey and so many others’. Thank you for being your beautiful, perfect self. Thank you for growing into your divinity at your own perfect pace. Thank you for having patience with yourself and others. Thank you for having the courage to go within and trust yourself over all things external – especially these words.

I Love you.
Namaste.
-Halcyon , 10.21.11

Appendix 1: “Parts of my practice”
**Hug Nation archives
**Hug Nation live broadcast every Tues @1 & 6 pm PST
**Jacob Glass’s Happiness Boot camp.
**Halcyon’s Recommended Books / Lectures

Appendix 2: Buddha Quote
“Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances.”
“Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion.”
“Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good.”
– The Buddha

Freya & B.

Freya & goddesses
Her transformation began weeks ago.
After the first day of Eve’s workshop I could already sense a shift in B.
Every Sunday for 6 weeks is a big commitment – but the commitment to the process was far more impressive.
The workshop was about discovering the goddess within through a process of study & dance. Finally culminating in a performance.
Each woman chose a different goddess from a different tradition.
B. choose the Norse goddess Freya early in the process. Freya called to her and quickly began to grow inside her.
It was such a gift to see B open up to her inner power over the following weeks.
She made costumes, selected music, and scripted an interpreted dance to tell the story of Freya.
But what opened inside B. was much more than a connection to a myth. It was a connection to her own power. A connection to Source.
2 months ago at Burning Man, B. & I did an interpretive dance performance. We were both nervous, but it went beautifully.
Last night’s performance was entirely different.
In fact, the term “performance” doesn’t fit. The women were not performing for an audience. They were channeling an experience – and allowing us to witness.
I don’t want to cheapen their displays with description – but they were amazing. I was humbled and inspired. As with previous Soul Voice performances I’ve seen, the feminine power shared was so raw and real – it transcended sexiness. They were erotic in a spiritual way. Our culture is so hung up on suppressed sexuality that we rarely see the sacred purity of feminine sexuality.
The dances may have involved female bodies – but they channeled divinity.
As I was pulled into the swirling energy of each woman I occasionally had the thought: These women walk among us?! How blessed life is.
B had shared with – many times over the last few weeks – her performance plan. I was impressed. She was so confident and grounded in the bold direction she wanted to go. I tried to be supportive as possible – to her process and her performance.
When it was her turn, I turned on the video camera and nervously watched her begin. 15 seconds in, the music stopped. the music had a technical problem. I about died. Helping her edit her song was one of the ways I had tried to help…and it looked like I may have ruined her night! The intimate crowd began to Om to fill the silence as B & Eve figured out the music challenge. A minute later, B began again.
I turned off the video camera.
I opened my eyes and heart.
And I saw the most beautiful woman I have ever met become something divine.
I feel so honored to have been allowed to witness such an evening with such a group of people.
Thank you Eve. Thank you, Freya. Thank you goddesses of our community.
Thank you, B. for all the magic and all the mundane.
I feel so blessed to share my heart & life with you.

Being at Peace while Being In Protest

How can we work towards change while Loving What Is!?

And MP3 audio.
Available Soon as an iTunes subscription
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lifestudent/id471963863