Are you really you?
Let me start by asking you a simple question. What is it that makes you different from every other human being you know? What is the one unique experience of your life which you're confident nobody else has ever experienced? Or have you spent much of your life trying to be normal and fit in with everyone else?
Are you a concept or are you real?
This is something that's interested me in some way since my early childhood, the ages of 5 and 6, so around 1971 and 1972. I grew up in a 'pathological' household raised by parents who couldn't stand one another plus I had my own issues relating to gender identity. My childhood was difficult, traumatic and confusing, and it was these experiences I went through in childhood which resulted in me turning to Theravada Buddhism, mysticism and the occult in my teens.
Today some 40 years later from my individual perspective the way most people see themselves in reality amounts to little more than a central character in a long running soap opera. No differently from the way an actor pieces together the character they play in a soap opera, working in various bits of information from many different sources, we piece together our own 'character' from our experiences and memories to create either a story or an explanation of who we are. This is not something most of us do willingly, because there are significant societal pressures to conform to the expectations of not just other people but also to 'hierarchy', the various institutions and bodies which determine and influence our social and cultural values.
The role of your Ego in life
This means that most people spend their lives working on and developing an Ego, or a snapshot of who they are neatly packaged into various labels, role identification and past achievements. You have a name, a date of birth, a job or profession, an education, a place of birth and so on. It's the equivalent of your CV, resume, and tells others about as much about you as a telephone directory such as the Yellow Pages tells you about London. It doesn't say anything about the trauma you've experienced, the things you're keenly interested in and passionate about, the struggles you have had to deal with in life or any of the other things which make you the real you and give people a deeper insight into who you really are as an individual human being.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
This is a Latin phrase taken from (I think) a Roman poem called 'Juvenalia' and means 'Who gods the gods?' or who decides who is God and what God is about? You see there's a very deep and profound societal conflict here which almost everyone is caught up in to some degree. In the Judeo-Christian tradition of Western society we are all expected to conform to standards of personal integrity and to be honest and truthful about who we are. Yet there is a social taboo about coming out with your individual truth and communicating to people who you really are. It's virtually impossible to maintain an Ego without identifying with various labels and social markers, e.g. white male, black woman, and so on.
So fundamentally who gets to decide whether you are you? You? Or other people? Or mainstream culture?
You see basing your identity, sense of self or individual reality on just your Ego is inadequate and doesn't come anywhere close enough to communicating who you really are to other people. You exist on so many different levels or planes of consciousness, and experience different levels of reality, and your Ego is just a small part of who you really are it's practically insignificant. Let me give you an example of the different levels or planes of consciousness (or reality).
- Physical appearance
- What you see when you look at another human being is another physical body - man, woman, old, young, tall, short, slim, fat, and so on. You see yourself in much the same terms. This is the most basic dimension. What you have here is a young woman with blonde hair who is probably slim and rather physically attractive. This is the most basic, fundamental level - purely physical - the level at which people eye each other up and teenagers give each other a score out of 10.
- Then what you have when you meet someone, or what interests you is their psychology, how do they think, their demeanour, and how they come across to you. Are they happy? Depressed? Confrontational? Friendly? Open-minded? Intelligent? Ignorant? Some people in therapy are prominent on this level, and are preoccupied with their own issues, depressions, highs, lows, fears, anxieties, loneliness, hopes, and so on. This is somewhat more real, because this is a level which is closely related to trauma, so this is more the real you and the real someone else.
- Social role
- Then you have another level or dimension which relates to societal role or function and which also gives us clues towards their perspective, from such things as education, background, occupation, interests, and whether they are wealthy or poor, working or retired, or unemployed, and so on. Note that only in some cases you can get a sense of who someone really is on this level, but often it's no indication of who someone is, because, you know, circumstances and opportunities in life.
- Then you have another level or variable which relates to worldview, beliefs, interests, and this also influences their perspective and how they come across. The exact same thing can be said about you. What belief systems and doctrines do you believe in? What ideology do you follow? What do you value and what do you feel is important or what matters in life?
- This is a level where it starts to get interesting. When you look into another person's eyes what you will find, invariably, is another person looking back at you, with a similar physical body, functioning on the basis of some psychology, social role, worldview and going through experiences in life which are just as unique and individual as your experiences. This is what the spiritually minded and religious among us call a soul, or spirit. But fundamentally you see another soul, another being just like you. You see someone who is, in reality, not that much different to you and who you are when you put all the other minor differences aside.
- So we take this to another level or dimension and we have what I can describe as reflection, and this is based on the understanding that when you look at another person you're essentially seeing a different version of who you are. The only thing which makes you different from someone else or that other person is trauma, or death, and being reborn into a new life. If we're going to get into actual reality and what's really real then it's understanding that we are all different physical manifestations of the same collective consciousness. We are all part of one awareness which takes on a vast multiplicity of different physical forms, each one of them unique and individual and unless all the other physical forms.
Okay so tell me now, where do you even begin to define yourself with so many different levels or planes of consciousness and reality? At the most physical end of this spectrum, the most basic and immediate layers of your consciousness exists the Ego, or the focus of your conscious attention, which takes in your Normal Everyday Consciousness (NEC) which is somewhere within just three levels. Your physical appearance and body is just one level, your 'psyche', mindset, thinking, communication strategies, behaviour, and psychology is another level. Your social role and function is another level. Your worldview and how you see the world is another level. But what about your Sleep State of Consciousness (SSC)? Your Dream State of Consciousness (DSC)? Your meta-physic and Soul Plane? Or the reflection plane, which is your connection to the universe and how you actually perceive time?
Please keep in mind as you read this my work as a mystic and shaman starts at the worldview and meta-physic planes. You have equal access to these planes of consciousness. Am I psychic? Yes I am but this isn't important. Much of my work as a mystic and shaman is expanding your mind and your conscious awareness to include the same awareness of the different planes of consciousness and reality as mine so you get a much deeper understanding of who you really are. As a teenager I sought to study and become a psychiatric nurse at St. George's Hospital in Tooting, London, but instead became a shaman. My interests are not just about expanding your mind and helping you to develop consciousness. I also walk a healing path and seek to liberate as many people as possible from suffering and their struggles.
Success here isn't you believing what I tell you. I have no need for followers or your authority. Success is you being able to define yourself in your own terms, figure out your individual truth, and find a way to walk your walk and talk your talk. I am not your guru, I am not your spiritual leader. Liberation and freedom comes from you having completely different beliefs and a different story to tell, in your words, which is different from any model and insight I share with you. This is about giving you the insight and ways where you can become real as an individual human being on every level of being.
The significance of childhood trauma in our lives
So you think your Ego is who you really are and what defines you? Please allow me to disabuse you of that notion. What makes you really you and often what defines you as an individual human being is childhood trauma and whatever trauma you experienced throughout your teenage years. Some degree of trauma is inevitable, even if you have had a relatively happy childhood, a good education and come from a loving family. I don't believe in "normal". Human life occurs at extremely low frequencies of energy. Human memory is very powerful. I also don't believe in perfect parents or perfect teachers. Human beings make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. Teachers make mistakes. Children make mistakes as do teenagers. Things happen which shouldn't happen. Some things which should happen don't. Therefore I just don't believe anyone can reach the age of 21 without experiencing some form of trauma.
I don't want to get too deeply into trauma here because I go much deeper into it in another article - 'The difference between trauma and suffering' but trauma is always the start of a karmic process, or karma, which is essentially a physical process of creativity and interaction in relationship. Trauma is always environmental because trauma is force, impact, shock and violence. A bell doesn't ring all by itself without being struck by a hammer. Water cannot create its own splashes, waves or ripples. Trauma always starts out of a relationship between two or more things and is therefore always environmental in nature.
Then you have karma, which is essentially action, reaction and interaction. The ringing of a bell after it is struck. The splash of water after you drop a stone into it. The echo from a noise or a shout which happens in a cave. The grief and bereavement other people experience when someone dies. The sense of isolation and loneliness, not to mention heartache when a loving relationship ends. I'm assuming you get an idea of the relationship between trauma and karma. Karma is always a process of action, reaction and interaction. Trauma is always the start of a new process.
Therefore it's pretty much inevitable that you have experienced some form of trauma during your childhood. You experienced poverty due to the societal position and status of your parents. You were punished for something you did and were simply too young to rationalize the conflict with your parents and why you were punished. You got bullied at school. You didn't get on with a teacher. A childhood pet died. You were adopted. Your parents divorced. You were bullied by one of your siblings. Your parents favoured a brother or sister over you. One of your parents died. Then you have the meta-physical aspects of trauma relating to the death of your previous life and rebirth of which you have no memory or experiential knowledge.
All this creates a certain degree of trauma which you experience and creates different karmic processes, or karma, which you somehow have to find a way of resolving in your life. Please also keep in mind that what will define your life experience is not just your karma and karmic process, but also the karmic process of your parents, your relatives, and other people with who you are related or bonded through trauma. Say for example one of your parents was abusive to you, or neglectful, then you will carry not just your karma but also the second hand karma which you share with the abusive parent. This is ultimately what defines your life experience and you can spend your whole life trying to resolve past karma you experienced in childhood and were born into.
Why is suffering, misery and struggle so acceptable?
I'm going to go against my principle here by using a public figure to give you an example of how trauma, karma and reincarrnation all go together to create reverberations throughout human society. Let's take the example of former US President Donald Trump. He is a very good example of how past trauma and karma can reverberate throughout our lives, throughout our relationships and even throughout generations. Trump's father was pathological and a psychopath, so he was cycling through karma from past trauma. We are all created by our environments, natural, social and cultural. What you experience in childhood is what karma you will have to process in life. Trump is a clear example of someone with heavy karma throughout his life with reverberations from childhood. He exhibits the distorted perspective of someone who has been badly traumatized and is carrying heavy karma and as a result has lost touch with his humanity.
But what I want you to think about is why suffering, misery and struggles are so acceptable in society? Why are humanity and empathy not more widely valued and accepted in our social values?
Personally I feel that any answer lies somewhere between the Ego, our social and cultural values, the competitive nature of human beings and the ways in which we are conditioned to judge ourselves and each other. We're perfectly capable of showing out humanity and empathy when we're among say trees in a park or forest. Or do you walk around pointing to individual trees saying "This tree is too fat. That tree is too ugly. That tree looks messed up."? When have you ever told a tree to go fuck itself? Surely if anything you accept trees for what they are and appreciate them, right? Then why not yourself and other people?
What motivated me to create Qultura?
The seeds for what has become Qultura were planted for me at the end of the last century when I became established in the performing arts and alternative theatre scene in Poland as a Fringe dramatist and stage director. More than anything else, I 'found' myself in theatre and the performing arts. I had been writing stories and interested in creative writing since childhood, I wrote poetry in my teens and most people recognize me as a writer of some sort. Creative writing has always been my main way of dealing with individual trauma and karma, and when I discovered that I could write a stage play and bring people together, and that they would appreciate me for me, for what I could do naturally, something started to click.
More seeds were planted when I found work in the cultural centres (community centres) in Poland giving drama workshops to people who had been affected by personal trauma, as I have, and being able to create professional standard theatre productions working with people who had been homeless, in prison, people with addictions, and people struggling with mental health issues. I discovered that if I could get them to participate as actors in just one stage production, and bring together an audience of people, including their families and friends - the so-called '15 minutes of fame' - the experience for almost everyone led to a catharsis and a transformation of consciousness. They saw themselves differently. It was this experience which contradicted almost everything I had learned from Theravada Buddhism, about following a path, about meditation, and about aspiring to seek mindfulness through 'nirvana'. I discovered that someone didn't need to practise Buddhism, meditation or yoga to transform their state of consciousness. It could be done spontaneously through nothing more than drama and being in an unfamiliar social environment.
Something else clicked when I found work teaching English to small children at a Waldorf school in Warsaw and was given a pile of books written by the founder of the Waldorf education method Austrian philosopher and social theorist Rudolf Steiner. I recognized the name from others such as Madame Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley (the 20th century occultist and creator of Magick), Arthur Waite and others when I was studying the occult and magic in the 1980's. Steiner founded 'anthroposophy' or spiritual science, seeking a connection between science and mysticism. I couldn't understand why, because for me mysticism is the basis of all branches of science. My artistic work has always been rooted in the occult and mysticism, just like Krzysztof Kieslowski (who I was commissioned to write for around the time of his death), Roman Polanski, David Bowie and Jimmy Page. I decided to investigate further and from 1998 or thereabouts did much further research to somehow come up with a theory to explain my experiences in Polish alternative theatre.
Around the end of my time living in Poland, specifically in the summer of 2005, my research was telling me the same thing - the answer to everything lay in 'drama'. But what exactly is drama, and why does drama have such a powerful effect when it comes to healing the effects of individual trauma?
The answer came in 2009, after a personal journey involving street homelessness, the Forest Tradition experience when I made good on my training to become a shaman in reality (almost two years isolated from society living alone with nature), further drama workshops with the homeless at St Mungo's via the Old Vic theatre, a reggae music project with the Marley family, and the development of Qultura Fringe at the former Duchess pub in Nine Elms. I was working on a Theory of Modern Drama. But when I dropped a mug on my kitchen floor, and it smashed, I made a personal discovery that drama is the polar opposite of trauma. This is how my drama theory became Creative Law at the end of November 2009.
When I discussed this with a close friend, Ian 'Fibbo' Fibbens, he was enthusiastic, and quickly pointed out that if Qultura Fringe was expanded to something more than just theatre, and became Qultura, it could be the basis for a new empathy based community through which anyone could find themselves and find their own unique method for healing from individual trauma. Fibbo originally suggested renaming everything The Curried Squirrel, but I had purchased a dot org domain name for Qultura so we agreed to work together to develop Qultura as an empathy based community accessible freely to everyone. Fibbo, who was a former session guitarist recovering from alcohol addiction was going to be the front man for Qultura, and my role was to develop Qultura methodology into a simple set of mystical principles which anyone could study to arrive at their individual truth.
Sadly Fibbo passed away around Christmas 2013 - complications from diabetes, heart failure, and the decision by his family to switch off his life support machine so he would suffer no further. This left me alone to develop Qultura into what it is today, the start of an alternative dream weaving community with a methodology based on a set of simple mystical principles where anyone, anyone at all, can come and discover who they really are by learning a bit of mysticism and recovering their natural humanity through nothing more than community involvement and dream weaving activity. As Fibbo wanted the Qultura community is an alternative non-conformist, non-judgmental community, no questions asked, completely free of charge, and freely accessible to everyone in the wider community.
I have developed Qultura methodology as a new community resource out of which anyone can create their own personal Qultura method. If trauma is environmental then surely you need to understand how the environment works on principle. Furthermore if trauma is environmental and based on relationship, then so too drama - which negates trauma - must also be environmental and based on relationship. I'm not dismissing other methods such as Buddhism, Taoism and yoga, or psychotherapy, as these methods all have their individual merits. But Qultura is a 'free' method you can develop in community, on your own terms, for any reason or purpose, and it can be a very powerful and effective way of healing from personal trauma.
You don't have to get involved in any way with Qultura. But if you don't understand who you really are and understand the truth of what your life is really all about, then how can you be expected to understand anything else? I will leave you with this question to think about.