Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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Richard Grossinger is a cultural anthropologist, writer, and co-founder of North Atlantic Books, a leading publisher of alternative health, martial arts, and spiritual titles.
Part of the problem with panics, Gene taught me, is the very sense that there is a problem. This creates a bogus responsibility for either oneself or someone else to solve it. If the patient can’t solve it, he is not only panicking; he is a failure. If he passes the responsibility to a clinician, he loses power and gives up the right to direct his own life.
There is no “new age,” or every age is a “new age.” Every randomly defined period of history is (of course) “new” when it is happening; yet all periods of history are subject to the eternal return of events and meanings. If we try to name the features by which observers declare a present new age, we find only some of the oldest and most conservative human activities: millennialism, the sacred earth, channeling and mediumship, communication with nonhuman entities, ritual participation in food and medicine, faith healing, and shamanism. These were also hallmarks of the so-called Sixties revival, a new age which was partially eclipsed by the materialism of the late Seventies.
The horror and melancholy of childhood are what stand out. I can no longer remember most of it explicitly. I cannot even swear that the haunting happened in this lifetime. The so-called moment of trauma has vanished into the darkness of existence itself.
I realized that I was looking at something that was either a complete waste of time, or the most important discovery of the twentieth century if not of our entire existence on earth. There is no middle ground.
To talk, as some do, about “making a world without war” when we’d be lucky to have a world without nuclear weapons, is talking hearsay and utopian theory. We can’t just talk peace, we have to be peace, or it’s another kind of bravado. I’d like a world without war; but we’d all settle for a world without wars that kill everything. — Gary Snyder