What Is Right With Burning Man? Part 2: A Shaman’s Perspective

Part II of a guest post by Ayahuasca. Read Part 1 here. Happy New Year, Burners!


 

The flame that Burns the man is lit in a magickal cauldron named El Diabla. Image: Dust to Ashes/Flickr

The flame that Burns the man is lit in a magickal cauldron named El Diabla. Image: Dust to Ashes/Flickr

This mirror, designed by Ember, lights the flame in El Diabla that eventually burns The Man from the sun's rays

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.

Zen Lessons

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;

flower-of-life-egupt1

“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 😉

If you enjoyed these articles please share on your Facebook and Twitter, spread some love :)

All my love!

-Ayahuasca

 

The Ten Year Anniversary of Burners Without Borders

BWB_logo

Thanks to Jex from BMIR for writing this guest post. It adds to earlier stories we have published regarding Burners Without Borders:

Burners Storm The Jersey Shore

Superstorm Sandy Vs The Burners

Seeding The Future

3 months ago, Burners Without Borders got assimilated by the Borg. We hope this will lead to an expansion in the amount of good they do in the world.

 


 

The Ten Year Anniversary of Burners Without Borders

by Jex

During a recent online conversation on Burners.Me, I, as many do, found myself in what grew to be a heated discussion. Some of my final words included something of ‘why not focus on the positive in our community, showcasing volunteers and such?’. With these words, Zos offered me a voice via his publication to showcase said volunteers. A lovely opportunity to share my words on what may possibly be my biggest inspiration, as well as what I believe is a huge part of the pulse within the burner community. Thank you, Zos for sharing this piece and thank you in advance for reading…Burn Bright – Jexime, Production Director of BMIR – 94.5 Burning Man Information Radio.

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Peru_BWB website

Ten years ago, on August 29th, 2005, the third largest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall on the United States showed its wrath on Louisiana and Mississippi. Hurricane Katrina, the namesake of this monster storm, peaked at a category 5 with over 175 mph winds. It left New Orleans 80% underwater, with a death toll of 1,577 people in the state of Louisiana, and another 238 fatalities in neighboring Mississippi. Katrina caused over 15 million people to evacuate their homes and left what may exceed an estimated 150 billion dollars in economic damage, with hundreds of thousands of citizens left unemployed, displaced, and homeless.

Hurricane Sandy Relief_BWB website

BWB Grant Program_BWB websiteTen years ago, on August 28th, 2005, Burning Man presented us with ‘Psyche’ – exploring psychology: self-expression, self-reflection and the unconscious power of dreams. Who are you? Who are we? What is this ‘we’, this ‘I’, we speak of so commonly on a daily basis? As burners pondered the very existence of their symbiotic relationships between I, we, and the power of dreams, a plethora of self-expressing art filled the clockworked city streets, giving unique avenues for self-discovery.

 

During this journey of self-reflection, as Hurricane Katrina simultaneously destroyed the lives of millions of people, one of the most important and phenomenal representations of Civic Responsibility was born. When word made its way through the dust of the devastation of Katrina, a group of burners discovered a profound sense of self and reflection of those in need. They headed straight to ground zero of the disaster area to help rebuild the destroyed communities.

 

Bayou_BWB website“As the volunteer numbers grew, they focused their initial efforts on rebuilding a destroyed Vietnamese temple in Biloxi, Mississippi. After several months, that job done, they moved to another needy Mississippi community, Pearlington, to continue to work hard – gifting their time – to help those in need. Over the course of eight months, BWB volunteers gifted over $1 million dollars worth of reconstruction and debris removal to the residents of Mississippi.”

-BurnersWithoutBorders.org

 

This solitary event opened the doors to one of the greatest grassroots, volunteer driven, organizations to emerge from our ever growing community – Burners Without Borders. With a goal to empower local communities, BWB supports their volunteers from all around the world in finding creative solutions through community efforts to aid in disaster relief. They believe in the power of collaboration and community driven leadership to make solid and effective change. The BWB mission statement reads:

 

“BWB promotes activities around the globe that support a community’s inherent capacity to thrive by encouraging innovative approaches to disaster relief and grassroots initiatives that make a positive impact.”

-BurnersWithoutBorders.org

 

Haiti_BWB websiteSince Hurricane Katrina, BWB has supported major global projects including; Will Ruddick’s project of Kenya’s alternative currency, Green Peace’s Water Patrol with several members of Buklod Ng Kabataan, the communities affected by the Colorado Floods, participation in a one month artist residency at Jakmel Ekspresyon in Haiti (a program set up and run by Su Frame, a Chicago based art educator and activist) as a response to the horrific earthquake to hit Haiti in 2010, relief for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and a multi-year earthquake disaster relief project in Peru. BWB sets up programming for volunteers to contribute to ongoing efforts such as these, as well as offering $100-$1000 dollars in grant money every April for civic projects that make a positive impact.

 

Project Hope Art_BWB websiteAs the ever growing nucleus of Burning Man and its diaspora continues its shift, feeding upon the current state of our populous, us burners find ourselves at the target of hyper criticism and challenges to our foundation’s ethics. Drama saturated rants infest social media – shrieking cries of billionaire plug and play camps echo far and wide as if they were the Mordor of Burning Man, while playa famed EDM DJs curse the dust over power discrepancies. We shockingly discover our beloved Ten Principles are mere reflections of our own ideals, held so tight they started to fall, vowels and consonants shattering into shards of morals and attachments, leaving us holding our knees, shaking in deep Playa, desperately asking ‘whatever shall we do?’. We look to the creators to change what is quite possibly in OUR hands to change. Perhaps, Burning Man is our true mirror and the evolution of our precious world and the fate of our community is our responsibility? Our Civic Responsibility. Let’s say the Borg are not our metaphorical parents, but are the gatekeepers who give us the blank canvas to create what we desire to reflect. Rules are inevitable – we are a society of rules, whether we’d like to admit it or not. However, are these rules a reflection of the chaos we are impassioned by? Are we subconsciously choosing entropy as our community religion? Are we the destructors of our own world while struggling through cloudy vision, unable to see we have the ability to come together to create change?

 

A mindful and ever so humble suggestion: Look to the example of those who have come before you. BWB is a pure example of the power we have to create something fantastic, something mind-blowing, something truly capable of changing the world.   They are not just an organization working toward aid of physical disaster relief, they are a symbol of how community, solid leadership, and how the true sense of Civic Responsibility can create massive waves. Be the change you want to see, in whichever community you dance in. Start with your passion, connect with those like minds who share it, rid yourself of mental clutter, and watch what can unfold. You can add to the poetry of those who have come before you and contribute to building a better world.

Haiti_2_BWB websiteProject Hope Art 2_BWB website

“When we connect our passion to the community purpose, anything is possible.”

-Carmen Maulk, BWB

 

BWB_Infiinte PossibilitiesThis 2015 burn, we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Burners Without Borders. May you continue to succeed exponentially, for many years to come. Thank you for the inspiration.

 

Visit www.BurnersWithoutBorders.org to find out more and get involved!!

SmallVersionBWBinfographic1

Image: Burning Man

A Permanent Temple in Paradise

Debra Klein has written a great feature at the Daily Beast about David Best’s new Temple at the Paradise Ridge Winery in Sonoma- a permanent structure made of steel, now installed between “TRUTH” and “LOVE” in their outdoor sculpture gallery which features a lot of Burner Art.

 

Entrance to Paradise Ridge

Entrance to Paradise Ridge

 

 

Previously, they had burned a David Best Temple there. People (Burners?) knew to write notes on the Temple, without ever being told.


 

From The Daily Beast:

best temple paradise

David Best Creates a Temple Made of Memories Outside San Francisco

Most works of art convey a specific message from the artist. But at David Best’s new temple in Sonoma County, visitors help build the piece out of their own memories of love and loss.

 

What do we have, in the end, when a love has gone? When a person has left for good? All that was everything between two people—a romance, a friendship, or simply day-to-day life—disappears. Only our memories never leave. But what if we want them to?

These are the thoughts that might flood visitors to David Best’s Temple of Remembrance in a meadow on the grounds of Paradise Ridge Winery. Like a vaguely Asian-themed birdcage, the deceptively ingenious rusted lattice memorial to love and loss is part shrine, part interactive do-it-yourself art project, as light visually as it is heavy emotionally.

It’s a place to remember the people you’re carrying in your mind or your heart. You can scrawl something on a flat pebble and bury it in a bird-bath bowl, or send a message to them on a piece of cloth set aflutter in the wine country wind. And, in doing so, you release your own feelings, too.

Best and his crew helped put the “burning” in the Burning Man festival fourteen years ago when they built the massive Temple of the Mind memorial in Nevada’s desert, and then dedicated it to a friend who’d died before the event began. Droves of attendees streamed inside to vent their emotions over the course of several days. The structure ignited their passions, and then the creators ignited it.

The temple idea caught fire, and while that ephemeral tradition continues as an end-of-the-festival ritual each year, the new Temple of Remembrance, on a hillside in Sonoma County, is Best’s first constructed in steel and is permanent. It sits somewhere between Truth and Love (that’s not a metaphor, those are the names of two other large Burning Man sculptures relocated to the same grassy, oak-fringed field) in a place where—despite expansive tree and vineyard vistas—visitors will find themselves looking within.

While Best’s flammable work is fleeting, the changes people experienced inside seem to stick. Best recalls a grieving father confiding that a visit let him unlock the emotional door trapping his family in grief. “Our son is free now,’” Best remembers he said. It’s a reminder that the flip side of anger is love, isn’t that why we feel both so intensely?

Although Best doesn’t consider himself particularly spiritual, he has a sixth sense about what people need to heal emotionally, be it from a trauma or a lost love, or both.

“You have to provide a place where someone can feel private, yet safe. They can be there or run away, they are not locked in,” he says. Immediately after, as if to prove his non-guru bona fides, he mentions he’s putting the finishing touches on a hot rod to race at Bonneville.

[read more at the Daily Beast…]