The flame that Burns the man is lit in a magickal cauldron named El Diabla. Image: Dust to Ashes/Flickr
This lens, designed by Ember, lights the flame in El Diabla that eventually burns The Man from the sun’s rays
Burning Man begins with one of the founders using the power of the sun shining through a crystal to light the first flame that stays lit all week until the burning of the temple. If that doesn’t tell you there’s something special about Burning Man nothing will. Shamanism has been around for thousands of years and is deeply rooted and revered in many cultures. Most of the time the Shaman (man or woman) acts as the priest, doctor, therapist, lawyer, peacemaker, and more for communities. They are healers in the community and have learned to connect to spiritual worlds within themselves of which we all have access. I have heard it said before that a Shaman is a person who can teach you to view the world from a totally new perspective; a healer that can see to your true nature, that wants to heal you, that wants you to remove the masks you build up within yourself to cope with a dark and painful world.
I was born with a curiosity to know myself deeply. I have been referred to as an empath, indigo child, healer, shaman, wanderer, intuitive, and a few others. To put it simply I have always been drawn to self-reflection and understanding myself. I feel things extremely deeply; pain and suffering is difficult to witness for people like me. This natural journey has produced many so called ‘spiritual’ experiences. From experiencing satori ‘a moment of clarity’ or deep epiphanies, to witnessing a satori in another human, to becoming one with all things many times in deep meditation and feeling a deep connection with spirit, god, and the universe. To put it even simpler, I constantly look within for the answer. I look for trust and guidance from spirit and my inner knowing rather than what my mind or society thinks I should do. To be honest, it’s not easy. It can be a very lonely path to walk but being among my brothers and sisters at Burning Man knowing I am not the only one, creates deep healing within me as well. There are powerful healers all across the world and a high concentration of them at the Burn doing amazing work. When I walk through the gates and the first person says, “welcome home” I couldn’t be more grateful. This is home and this is where we are all going.
There was a time in our societies where the Shaman or Spiritual Worker was common. Every culture in history had them and they were an integral part of the society. Today, modern science has pushed aside generations of spiritual wisdom. Science and healthcare are extremely important and should be utilized, however we have completely forgotten the other side of the spectrum and have turned pharmaceuticals into a dangerous for profit entity rather than merging the two worlds together. Thankfully the knowledge is still here and holistic practitioners, energy workers, yogis and even Shamans are keeping the teachings alive. These people have mastered their minds and bodies through different disciplines such as yoga, meditation, earnest seeking, energy work, and more. Many of us are able to clear our minds and tune into the vortex deeply at any moment. As I allow the energy to pulse through me I can easily drop into powerful altered states instantly. The depth of this state happens infrequently in the default world and instantaneously on the playa. I’m absolutely using ‘the force’. To someone who has never practiced the art of looking within and clearing their mind, this may seem a little fantastic and I can assure you it is nothing special, although sometimes it is righteously special! I could go into stories about supernatural experiences but I don’t want you to think that is the purpose of the practice. The purpose of the practice is to connect with yourself, to trust yourself, to have a deep connection that no one can take away from you.
The most telling and profound proof of the vortex discussed in part one http://www.mattbelair.com/burningman1/ is the witnessing of transformations all over the playa. It is extremely common for people to have deep healings of past trauma, crying, a deeper connection to source or spirit, awakenings or satori, spiritual experiences and an evaluation of ones life. We begin to realize and understand the truth that we are all one and mask after mask, layer after layer falls away as we are open to experience and witness our true selves. Participants have the option to go to countless workshops on self-development, yoga, meditation, consciousness, and more. Not to mention the powerful healers who work tirelessly to give healings all day. These are the places I call home at Burning Man; Shaman Dome, Sacred Spaces, Red Lightning, Camp Contact, Honeysuckle Hood, Anahasana Village and many more. These places dedicate their time, love, energy, and healing all week and is a huge part of what makes Burning Man so special.
Understanding Burning Man Phenomena and Expressions
Have you ever considered that you create your reality? Have you ever considered you have the ability to create any reality you want? Have you ever considered that you are infinitely powerful? Any Burner you meet will talk about and fully embrace the concept of ‘Playa Magic’ but what is playa magic? The short version is:
Playa Magic = The Law of Attraction
You will find countless stories of Burners who will SWEAR that playa magic is real . . . because it is! Whether it was the time that you were hungry and a hot dog vendor appeared out of nowhere or you needed some comfort and a cuddle puddle and kind soul offered a hug, or you were thinking, ‘man I need a ride and some great music’ and a few minutes later the perfect art car rolls by and you jump in! It is the human condition and limited perception that consistently brushes this off as coincidence. However, another powerful by-product of the BMV (burning man vortex) is that these lessons run deep, you cannot continue to look away from the majesty and intelligence of the universe and brush it off as coincidence. The playa provides! Since I am a Law of Attraction coach, taught by the great Michael J. Losier, and have studied countless metaphysical fields, the laws of the universe are easy to witness on the Playa. The reality is that participants are sending a request into the universe for what they need BUT because the playa vibrates at a much higher frequency your request comes at a faster rate. That coupled with the fact that your doubt (the thing that prevents your desires) is very low causes you to be much more open to receive. This is exactly how the law of attraction works in the default world except there is a longer delay and more faith is required. With the longer delay we have much more time to sabotage our desires with our doubts, unconscious and observed signals being sent out by our minds, bodies and hearts at every second. The law of attraction has one job and one job only and that is to match vibration. Most of us are good at asking but very few are good at receiving. For example how often are you present? How often do you sit in silence? How much mental energy is wasted on stress, going places, fear, anxiety? How much of your mental power is focused on presence, wonder, excitement, gratitude, joy, curiosity? This is a deep lesson with a simple answer; focus your thoughts, feelings, and actions toward that which feels good to YOU and so it shall BE. Obviously the universe is going to throw you curve balls – you were never in control in the first place.
If offered the chance would you jump at the opportunity to learn from one of greatest Zen masters of all time? The universe is the greatest teacher of all and we have been conditioned to ignore its constant communication with us. The incredibly powerful art is also a massive healer on the playa that most people miss. It is also another big piece of the healing energy. Participants are getting deep timeless Zen and spiritual teachings without even knowing it. One of the biggest lessons is on impermanence. In some Zen or Buddhism sects they will spend weeks creating elaborate and extraordinary art only to allow it be complete for 24 hours before racking their art and starting again. This is to demonstrate impermanence and offer a deep lesson in attachment.
I witnessed as some people broke down with the burning of the Lotus temple. The fact that it was a lotus alone has huge meaning. The lotus is a very sacred symbol in Zen teachings and is often referred to in order to teach about the layers of the mind and unfolding of the self to ones true nature. Not only did the artist build a breathtaking sculpture with deep spiritual roots, about 15,000 of us watched it burn to the ground. The amount of hours, love, and commitment to build such a structure must have been extraordinary, nonetheless all the time and effort gone in a matter of minutes. We all learned a deep lesson on impermanence. These lessons are burrowing deep into the participants subconscious without them being aware of it. Think of it this way, if a child is learning that an element is hot and slightly burns their hand by touching it they will probably learn that lesson. However if the element is on high and the child touches it and suffers severe burns they’ll learn the lesson even deeper and have even more respect for the power it produces. The same applies for spiritual teachings and the reason why in Zen they often refer to layers or levels of understanding. The spiritual symbol of the lotus, coupled with the magnitude and beauty of the piece of art allowed for a deep lesson in impermanence.
The flower of life is the most sacred symbol in the universe. It is the pattern in which all life is created and is another example of how the art and environment is affecting everyone at Burning Man. The flower of life is all over the world and has been around for centuries including being etched into the main pillar of the temple of Osiris in Egypt. Here is a brief summary from an ancient civilizations website;
“The temple was a subterranean complex dedicated to Osiris, the god of the Afterlife, symbolizing death and regeneration. The northern wall of the Seti Temple was decorated with scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’. The afterlife and resurrection. The once-underground chambers are the most ancient of all the ancient Egyptian ruins. The Flower of Life symbol is carved with laser-like accuracy on huge granite blocks in the temple walls and we are not able to replicate this today.”
Usually it is drawn in two dimensions and this year Swiss engineers fabricated a brilliant and mathematically perfect reconstruction of a 3D version of the flower of life, or as most people referred to it as, “are you talking about the ball?” The flower of life is a mathematical masterpiece and the foundation of all Sacred Geometry. Not only was the ball amazing in 3D they were able to use a light show to create and express the infinite dimensions of the pattern with a light show, which broke down the flower of life into more and more dimensions vividly showing the power, magic, beauty and awe of the pattern. Most people missed the significance. Nevertheless, this timeless knowledge was affecting them.
Enlightenment Is Nothing Special
In a few moments time you’ll know what enlightenment is. After that you’ll be disappointed. There is an old Zen saying that goes, “Enlightenment is nothing special.” And another that says, “Before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood carry water.” I can recall reading books on enlightenment and Zen teachings at the age of 16 and looking at it like static on a television. Why all these riddles? What the hell are you saying? I have experienced and understood enlightenment deeply through mediation and for prolonged periods in Ayahuasca ceremonies. It is something that is so painfully simple it hurts. Enlightenment is the simple realization that YOU are the creator. The world is not happening to YOU, YOU are happening to IT. Unsatisfied? I thought so but spend time chewing on that nugget and I promise you’ll grow, YOU ARE THE CREATOR! In order to wake up you must want to, you must earnestly seek. I had the honour and privilege to witness my first Satori ever on the playa with a beautiful soul. As we conversed about the meaning of life and the universe, all of a sudden I witnessed him have a deep moment of clarity, a powerful insight! We both began to laugh hysterically because we both knew what had happened. Over the coming days we spoke again and he confirmed he had woken up, things were different and it’s nothing special. With awakening you must still walk the human path, still confused, still searching except you have a deep knowing that no one can take away from you unless you let them. You are the creator. You are infinitely powerful. The world is not happening to you, you are happening to it. When you master your mind you can master your reality and state of being! Enlightenment is not a change into something better or more it is the realization of who you already ARE. Enlightenment is the process of letting go of everything that you think you are, that drives you mindlessly so you can act from your true nature and be FREE as you were intended.
“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself”
Zen Master Dogen
Re-entry: A Transition From Love to Fear
When you arrive at Burning Man they say welcome home. You quickly feel the love and acceptance from everyone. You witness genuine kindness, receive a thick book of workshops from spirituality, sexuality, art and everything in between. You are free to express who you truly ARE. After an experience of what I see as a 7 day Ayahuasca ceremony you must leave the Playa and re-enter the ‘default’ world. There is genuine concern from almost all participants because for most the default world is painful, dark, stressful, and makes no darn sense. A society where you’re taught to fear and protect yourself. You are literally stepping down in vibrational frequency from LOVE into FEAR, and it’s a real challenge.
Although I am blessed in the default world the transition is a strong challenge. I am able to raise my energy to astronomical heights on the playa on command and the feeling of joy, acceptance, love and my connection to spirit lessened because I do not have the BMV to tap into. Hence my communication and connection with source is greatly heightened and it’s a long way down back into the 3rd density. It is our job as humans, Burners, and people of this planet to carry and hold the light. To lead by example and as Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That no matter what happens externally you will choose to show LOVE. Life is not perfect and when you learn to master your perspective, mind, and emotions, your reality will transform. Change always starts from within. Learn to master your mind and body, become an alchemist, and find peace and harmony within. Do not depend on the external to bring you happiness, rather radiate peace and joy and harmony within and like a ball of ferocious light let it be seen; in a smile, in forgiveness, in compassion. Trust the creator/universe/spirit/nature to bring you what you need. Ask for awakening, learning, growth, kindness and compassion. This is what a soul needs; don’t be fooled by false gold. Find infinity within.
There is only one choice that you need to make now and from every moment forward. There is no trying. You are going to choose between the two most powerful frequencies in the universe, which are FEAR and LOVE. They are polar opposites and also the most powerful. Society does everything in its power to force fear down your throat. Pay attention to where you look because you will always find what you are looking for. If we as individuals can begin to choose love for ourselves and love for our fellow man we can shift this planet. Burning Man is an example of what is possible. This world will never be perfect, however if you can find harmony within yourself, you will find harmony in your environment and that love will radiate from you and affect others. Einstein believed this so it must be true! Keep it simple, follow your heart, connect with yourself deeply and try not be an a-hole
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All my love!