I just got back from an incredible experience of wilderness camping in the desert of South Africa. It was a foray into astronomy, the elements and facing my shadow at every turn. It was one of those experiences where the technology was off and I finally had no distractions - thus I was forced to be completely immersed in desert living. The experience was priceless and I'm still integrating the valuable lessons it provided.
While I was out there exploring this vast natural environment, I felt deeply connected with the lives of the San people - the ancient hunter/gatherers that traversed the harsh landscape contained within Cederberg National Park. Though this landscape was harsh and unforgiving, I could feel that their lives were blessed with the abundance of experience and the full-spectrum of natural law.
Vanessa and I stayed in a simple shack with no toilet and no electricity. Yet, we were not at all bored. Instead, we became very occupied with studying the night sky. On the first night, the moon rose first - full in her glory, illuminating the sky and drowning out the stars. Yet, on the second night, she had already moved 15 degrees down allowing Mars to come forth first and granting us an extra hour of pristine dark sky. Jupiter and Saturn were directly above us in the midheaven at nightfall and we watched in awe as the spheres danced their way from east to west across the breadth of the cosmic stage.
The days were very warm. Clear skies and a merciless sun kept us constantly aware of where the best shade lie. As it turns out, it happened to be under the rock I was standing on in the picture accompanying this article. A 4 m overhang of glazed sandstone complete with a polished rock bench gave rise to an incredibly cool cave. Nature's AC allowed for a comfortable respite from the onslaught of direct heat.
The desert was indeed alive. And it showed us that there were ample opportunities to face death. A large scorpion carefully crawled across the rocks. The desert floor itself was a field of cobra lairs. The rocks we had to cross were weathered into irregular pikes and eroded pockets where one false step could lead to a severe injury.
Of course that didn't stop the wild adventurer within from journeying forth.
I skirted the shadow of death by being 100% present with every motion I made in that desert. Careful, fluid motions with a constant scan of the ever-changing landscape allowed me to avoid adversity and find safe passage with every step.
There was something deeply rewarding about this. Life became rich in every moment. When we are faced with great peril in every moment, we tend to find the best in ourselves because the internal procrastinator finally shuts up - there's no room to get lost in thoughts when a cobra could be behind that scrub bush ready to spit venom into your eyes!
Our modern lives let us experience so much comfort that we are buffered from the rawness of survival. Our indoor climates are controlled, set at a plush 22 degrees and we have pantries stocked with more calories than we could consume and access to so much entertainment that we could possibly never have to look within again! Not to mention the fact that our communities and workplaces have been severely sterilized of anything that might cause physical discomfort - not even harm, simply discomfort.
Of course the trade off here is that we never have to confront the wisdom of the shadow. We never have to experience the toils of a rite of passage or use persistent adversity to grind away the rough, rocky matrix and reveal the gem within.
The wilderness contains 'the shadow' in every possible way. It is the pinnacle of shadow work that our ancient ancestors would just call part of their everyday life. You want to eat some berries? well, they may kill you. You want to go for a walk? you might get bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion.
I once heard Reggie Ray (a senior Buddhist practitioner) say that the modern person only evolves their being to the level of a toddler. Gurdjieff (Russian mystic) affirmed this when he said that nomads lived a life where their beings evolved in tandem with their personality, however, the civilized man only ever developed his personality as his being never evolves.
If we look around us, we are all very informed. Educated and clever, but when shit hits the fan, we indeed collectively act as toddlers. We still look for mommy and daddy in the form of governments and 'authority' to provide us with the answers to crises because we have not developed our own ability to cope with adversity.
This is why we are in such a precarious situation at the moment, because we are willing to accept slavery and harm in exchange for the illusion of safety. All for the simple reason that we have not had the appropriate rites of passage to refine us into beings that can take 100% responsibility for our lives.
When a nasty flu spreads across the world, we are willing to stay at home and traumatize ourselves in isolation; fearfully awaiting an experimental and hastily-made vaccine because we are unwilling to face the fact that life is not inherently safe - and it never has been.
The only solution to this is to begin to reclaim our own inner responsibility to take rightful action. To cultivate our own ability to face fear dead-on and take responsible action in spite of it.
Until we are ready to confront the own shadow of our lives, our lifestyle, our society and our ancestry, we are burdened with unexamined fears that keep us paralyzed and divorced from our very essence.
Instead we relegate ourselves to digital and mental fantasy-worlds and a myriad of distractions to avoid the uncomfortable.
This inevitably causes massive amounts of suffering - both individually and collectively.
We look to 'experts' who are very educated and completely unevolved to tell us what to think and how to act. We become negligent of our own internal compass and instincts because they may result in ridicule or abandonment from the herd.
Well, screw the herd!
In a few decades from now no one will care about Trump or the other guy running against him no matter how much media we consume or how outraged we all get over the circus of politics.
The only thing that will be remembered will be derived from one simple question - did we make the right choices and act from that place when the circumstances called upon us?
There's a million reasons we can think of for staying meek, out of the way and parroting safe rhetoric but none of them matter.
What matters now is will we do what is required to sense the spirit of human potential stirring within us that is actually guiding us. Guiding us to rise up and become a new form of human that can embrace the full spectrum of reality and meet it at every turn.
Fortunately, humans are adaptable creatures. If the power goes out every day, we will learn to deal with it and adjust. If we have to carry rocks for hours a day, our bodies adjust by building the right muscles. If a mother is forced to work three jobs to feed her children, she will do it without thinking.
But before we can rise to the occasion, we have to sense the urgency to act. This requires us to reconnect with something that possesses the essence of the objective reality to remind us of who we actually are and what we should actually value.
I hope that this short article is of value to you. The new human is not one that will go back to any romantic idea of ancient hunters. But we can learn from their way of being in order to develop our own 'being-ness' so that we can mature and cultivate wisdom.
We can regain freedom in our lives. Not freedom to do whatever we want, but the freedom to do what we came here to do.
I have created a community where these skills will be honed. It is a community for men to regain their sovereignty and cut through the BS that holds us back from our inner life.
If you'd like to know more, please check it out here: https://www.modernmysticscollective.com/subscriptions?id=sovereign-masculine-membership