Nuclear Love

I make war with my heart.

So, let me orphan your pride

With my cold-blooded kindness.

Behold, helplessly at my mercy,

As I lay waste to your ego,

Shelled to oblivion by soft kisses.

Forget not the scarlet stains

Of your vanity’s blood

On freshly fallen snow

Spilled by my hand’s reassurance.

I will bomb out  your rage

With a patient gaze

Until there is nothing left.

Arrogance will fall before

The firing squad of my silence.

Now, brace yourself

For the blaze I’ll make of your vengeance

Sparked with ruthless gratitude

And fanned with sincerity.

Tremble as your venom burns.

I will hijack your apathetic shrugs

And reduce your “I don’t give a damn’s”

To earnest “please stay’s”.

Surrender now;

Your bitterness will fold

To the siege of my devotion.

Abandon hope and resist not,

For I must bury your soul

In the fallout of my nuclear love.

Swan Song

The air around him grew toxic and cold; the enemy, bred from his people’s blood and collective ignorance, closed in from all directions. It had no presence, only a suffocating absence of all things that he loved. Standing there alone, with nowhere left to go and nothing left standing to fight for, he realized that he was the last. There were no more. He could feel the final oppressor, the sum of all humanity’s misdeeds, dancing over the surface of his skin, taunting him, begging for admission. He closed his eyes and relaxed his clenched fists. Finding his last breath, the sacred song began to well up inside of him. He brought his palms together, arms stretched out before him, with such force that lightning crackled between his palms and the very fabric of space began to fragment around him. He slowly pulled his hands to his chest in prayer. Humming a low, clear note, he remained there peacefully defiant. The enemy hissed and in that sound one could hear the crashes of numberless fallen trees, the timorous cries of billions of beasts ushered to slaughter, gun shots, bombs, screams, and most of all, the deafening ignorance of his fellow man. But for a brief few moments, the man’s voice won out. It was the Prima’s last dance, the swan’s song, the final masterpiece lain humbly on the altar of love, all in that single breath. As his lungs began to fail a smile crept onto his lips as, for one final time, the beauty and joy of being alive sang through the suffering he had beared witness to. His only regret was that he had been unable to bring more love into the hearts of his brothers and sisters, who lay lifeless around him, divided and conquered. Then, his breath was gone and in an instant the shadow snuffed him out. He was the last. There were no more.

Paradigm Shift

The discovery of my gift after facing my personal wound, as life changing and liberating as it was, placed before me a new set of challenges. As time passed, I continued experiencing an increasing  number of things that I could not rationally explain. This was particularly difficult for me because through high school and college I had excelled in the sciences. I worked in a research lab as an undergraduate on a project that would eventually be submitted for publication, landed a my first job post-college as a laboratory manager/research assistant at a prestigious medical school, and had it not been for my illness and drug addiction, may have had a promising career in science. As odd events and synchronicities befell me, none of my prior educational background or training had prepared me to understand or cope with what was happening to me. I was confronted with the possibility of a weakening grip on reality; yet, such a notion proved a difficult pill to swallow. Day by day, I was becoming more functional and effective than I had ever been before. I realized that to begin to understand a paradigm shift was needed.

A paradigm is a mental construct or system that serves as a lens; we perceive ourselves, other human beings, and the world through them. The development of our own personal paradigms is a function of the way we interact with our environment and the beliefs, habits, and values we acquire or are “programmed” with through our experiences. The people we interact with, subcultures and cultures we are a part of, and the societies we live in are also integral to our paradigms. Most people are so deeply embedded in their way of seeing things that when confronted with anything in conflict with that viewpoint a common reaction is complete rejection of the idea by labeling it as false (cue Gollum voice), malignant, or both. A paradigm shift typically occurs when, in a short span of time, the lens we see through is bombarded with so many assaults that we are left looking at the cracks and questioning if it was the most accurate way of viewing things to begin with. Then begins a question, answer, and exploration process where we finally face the inconsistencies that we had been previously ignorant to and our understanding of reality and truth starts to expand and shift.

As my old paradigm began to crumble due to the deviation of my experienced reality from the things that I have previously been taught and learned, I launched myself into seeking answers from places that I had not examined before. One by one, I began acquiring and studying spiritual and religious texts from different cultures and time periods. The Bhagavad Gita, The Holy Bible, Tao Te Ching, The Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides, Buddhist Sutras, The Secret of the Golden Flower, and The Tibetan Book of the Dead were among those on my list. Keeping the concept of paradigms in mind, I tried to read these texts with an open mind, heart, and with an unbiased opinion. My goal was to focus on concepts and themes instead of details and, as I did this, I began to notice something fascinating. It didn’t matter what I was reading, it became clear to me that everybody was saying pretty much the same damned thing only from different perspectives. Think of a group of people in a large dark room. There’s a dimly lit object at a distance and everyone is trying to make sense of what they are seeing by attempting to characterize and define the object but because they are all observing it from different vantage points no one can agree on what they are seeing! In reality, they all see different facets of the same thing but become entrenched in the details only seen from their particular point of view, thus creating restrictive paradigms.

At the same time that the hidden threads connecting various spiritual traditions revealed themselves to me I was also reading about quantum mechanics and physics. Without pretending to be well versed in such a complex and convoluted area of science, what I took from it was that the laws of the universe and “reality” aren’t quite as concrete as we would like to believe. I read about extraordinarily clever experiments in which scientists teased out the inconsistencies and paradoxes inherent in the universe around us and showed that reality is not easily reduced to the kind of black and white thinking that most of humanity is so comfortable with. For example, it has long since been established that a photon behaves as both a particle and a wave simultaneously yet the behavior and qualities of waves and particles are so vastly different that the idea of something acting as both at the same time is in itself a paradox. Another even more thought provoking experiment performed at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN demonstrated that certain subatomic particles behave differently depending on whether they were directly or indirectly observed. This opens up the floor for a HUGE question: to what degree does consciousness influence the nature of reality?

None of what I read, spiritual or scientific, divulged to me the secrets of the universe and I cannot say that I have yet attained self-realization, certainly not enlightenment. What I did learn; however, was that science and spirituality aren’t as incompatible as history would have us believe. The field of quantum physics is where the boundaries seemingly segregating those two areas begin to blur and overlap. The most illuminating part for me was identifying particular passages in texts thousands of years old (most notably The Bhagavad Gita) defining theories that are now mainstays in quantum theory. As my mind continued to open and the restrictive walls of my old paradigms began to topple, I found it easier to understand my own experience of reality in a much more loving, accepting, and inclusive way. As terrifying and disconcerting releasing the restrictively dualistic ways I had been taught to view the world initially was…I have come to realize that the less I believe I know for certain, the happier I am.

The Gift of a Wound

In some way, we have all been wounded. Previously, I used the analogy of a snake bite to illustrate the experience of being wounded as well as the healing process. Today, I want to talk about the “original wound”. We all have one. There are no exceptions. It is typically marked by the first salient experience we have of grief, sorrow, pain, suffering, neglect, or abuse. The original wound sparks our initial understanding that the world is filled with more than just the magic, wonder and innocence of childhood. It whispers to us that there is also suffering and, while we may come to understand this in a painfully sharp instant or aching slowly over time, it changes us and we are never the same. There is no way to avoid this, it is simply a part of life.

For most of us, the original wound sculpts the course of the rest of our lives. Inside that wound is a painful truth, one that we often avoid facing at all costs. Many people are so subconsciously preoccupied with avoiding this truth that they will find ways to create secondary and tertiary wounds to serve as a distraction from the root of their suffering and fear. Living life this way, things external to us change, we run the rat race, but we are never quite the people we want to be or living the lives we desire. The secret that we don’t learn until some paradigm-shifting crisis rocks our world is that the original wound contains a lesson that we need to learn in order to grow into ourselves as individuals. Once we learn this lesson, we find that hidden in our wound all along was a gift.

In The Night That I Died, I spoke about the culmination of a most difficult period in my life. I had struggled with mental illness since I was 14 years of age (I am now 28), was an addict who had been using heavily for 2 years, and had thoroughly sabotaged all the good relationships and opportunities that life had previously presented to me. I’d hit rock bottom. In the darkness and distress of that experience, I was faced with my original wound. With nothing left to lose, I entered that wound, finding inside the contents of my worst fears and insecurities. After spending some time sitting in my internal night the lesson that had been hidden there began to glimmer. What followed was a series of revelations and epiphanies and within a 24 hour period I felt like a new person. I walked away from drugs completely, no longer qualify for the diagnoses that had plagued me, and brick by brick, I began to reconstruct my life. But, that was not the end of what my wound had to offer.

Shortly after this “by the grace of God” event of spontaneous recovery, I noticed something strange. At seemingly random moments, my hands would start to feel an odd sort of activation. First, there came intense heat, as if there was an internal heat source that radiated an unnatural warmth. Eventually, the heat progressed into vibrations, like my hands were shaking at an incredibly high speed. Together, these two sensations made them feel like they had become less solid than and had expanded into space. Understandably, I thought that these bizarre sensory disturbances were a result of my long-term drug use and that they might disappear over time. Nope!

Over time, I discovered that I could alter the quality of the sensations using breath control. What followed was a series of experiments in which I used my breath to make it increase, decrease, and flow to different areas of my body. One day, I decided to tell a friend of mine who I knew wouldn’t write me off as “crazy” or immediately attribute it to my past drug use. I explained what was happening, asked if I could try something, placed my hands on the crown of his head, and began to focus my breath. What I suspected would happen did; he felt the heat coming from my hands! Feeling a bit more confident, my experiments graduated to human trials. One by one, I sought out other friends to serve as volunteers, trying different areas of the body, doing full body sessions, and in each case I got increasingly positive feedback. People were reporting heat, vibrations, vivid mental imagery, visions, colors, one person even had an out of body experience. It was one person who finally brought the answer I had been searching for to my attention: Reiki. I was doing Reiki and this realization culminated in my formal training.

Having found the desperate courage to go into my wound and find the lesson buried there, I finally began to heal. When I integrated the understanding and wisdom from that lesson into my life, my unique gift began to emerge. As I said in the beginning, we each have a wound but that also means that we each have a gift. It could be anything: singing, dancing, academics, writing, crunching numbers, building or fixing things, being an exceptional homemaker, everything and anything under the sun. In my case, it was Reiki and a newfound connection to Spirit. Instead of perceiving our gift as some sort of “special ability” and thus running the risk of comparing them against one another, I prefer to look at it a different way. All gifts are created equal because they all serve the same purpose. After going through the trials of confronting our wound and the terrifying contents inside, the things we have avoided our whole lives, we are rewarded with the shocking discovery of our own personal power in the form of some sort of talent. Beneath the sleeping dragon lies the gold. Once we slay the dragon and take back the treasure that was always rightfully ours, we begin to grow into the power to shape ourselves, our lives, and the world around us instead of just letting the world shape us. Then, anything becomes possible.