Spirituality, Madness and Valis

I became intrigued with Philip K. Dick after hearing Dr. Jeff Kripal discuss his book, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal. It inspired a post and my fascination with finding other creatives who’ve had mystical experiences. I recently completed reading Philip K. Dick’s book, Valis, which was a semi-autobiographical account of his experience. While Dick didn’t use the same terminology as me, our encounters were similar. While reading his words, it was as if I were having a conversation with someone who understood me.

In Valis, we follow Horselover Fat, Dick’s alter ego, on his quest to understand his theophany, which he described as being struck by a pink beam of light. He explains it as information being given to him and that the entirety of the universe is, in essence, information. The event him to diagnose an illness his son had, which turned out to be accurate. Phillip spends most of the book attempting to figure out the meaning of what happened to him. Further complicating matters is that he has trouble understanding why he was able to save his son but can do nothing to save a friend who has terminal cancer. During his quest towards enlightenment, friends view him as having gone mad.

Valis is crammed with spiritual insights seen through both his narration and entries in Horselover Fat’s exegesis. I was immediately drawn to Dick’s use of both first and third person narrative. The reason for the point of view switch is so the narrator could be more objective about his spiritual experience. This gave the book a Socratic feel as it was an odyssey about self-inquiry and questioning every previously held belief.

 

Birds of a Feather

Like Philip K. Dick, I spent years trying to understand what happened to me. At times, I felt as though I were going crazy.  After my kundalini awakening, I was flooded by a psychological torrent of fears and past hurts that I was forced to deal with. I had to eventually accept that everything I held as truth my whole life was a myth. I then wondered what was the point of it all and started to ask why this happened to me.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

What does it mean? 

Was it God?

What is God? 

Are we living in a live organism?

Am I plugged into a giant hologram?

Is what I see every day reality?

Is this part of some clandestine psychological operation?

I had my awakening when I was thirty. I’m now forty-six. I haven’t answered any of the above questions absolutely. Perhaps that is why I’m an ideological atheist. Getting caught up in trying to find answers to questions that can’t be answered can drive you insane if you let it. Philip K. Dick, at first, believed what happened to him resulted from medication he had taken for an impacted wisdom tooth. However, when his visions continued, he knew the explanation was implausible. I don’t take drugs, and my experience happened while I was meditating, so I knew it wasn’t a reaction to medication.

“I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane.” Philip K. Dick

It seems as though I lived my first thirty years in a delusional state. If it were a schizophrenic episode, the opposite would be true. I have more clarity of mind, something I never had before as I suffered from clinical depression, borderline personality disorder and ADHD. I’m no longer depressed, nor do I exhibit any symptoms of BPD. I personally view ADHD as nothing more than a personality-type that creatives share.

“Alike and equal are not the same thing, you have to find your own beat.” Meg from Wrinkle In Time

I’m not here to debate whether ADHD is real or not. This is my personal view, and I show my daughters, who both exhibit many of the symptoms, how to use them to their advantage. I would’ve either been dead or on antidepressants if it weren’t for my seeing the proverbial light. So dealing with a little madness along the way to spiritual recovery was worth it!

“Many claim to speak for god, but there is only one god and that god is man himself.” Phillip K. Dick

We can all connect to a greater reality without a guru to assist us. U.G. Krishnamurti made similar statements, which is why he referred to himself as an anti-guru. Through my own journey, I’ve reached a similar state of mind and don’t follow any gurus or religion.

“You are the authority.” Philip K. Dick

Being a skeptic is actually the safest way to experience life as I’m not easily led astray or manipulated. I emerged as a stronger person from my experience and that’s one statement I can make absolutely.

Love and light,

Eleni

Spiritual Objectivism – Part 5

I discussed the spiritual side of objectivism in my last post and will tie it all together with my writing in this post. I wanted to begin with my birthday, which happened on July 19, 2007.

What is death? The completion of this current life cycle. The perceived “I” will exist no longer.

After I typed the last line, it really hit me for it led to the real death of the perception of “I.” What is called, “Eleni” cried. I mourned the loss of the “I.” Daphne came in and asked me. “Eleni, what’s wrong? It was odd…and fitting…that she called me by my first name. I told her, “I’m not real.” She laughed as well. This all relates to the “I’m not the meaning” quote sent to me by the Higher Self.

Daphne is my daughter, who’s now ten. She hasn’t called me by my first name before that date or ever since. That event was the proverbial icing on my cake. I completely detached from my self-perpetuated mythos. I’d rather leave the fiction for my stories. Writing my personal truth and being able to express myself authentically is what makes me love the craft of writing.

Connecting Spirituality to Objectivism

I appreciate the Tao Te Ching, and I think much of the philosophy included inside helps cultivate a spiritual/objectivist mindset.

Therefore the Sage is devoted to non-action

Manage the work of detached teaching,

Conduct the teaching of no words.

They work with myriad of things but do not control

(Excerpt from Verse 2)

When we seek to control, it does not allow us to grow. If we try to control others, we keep them from growing. That same mindset applies to those in power. Hence, a free society is conducive to personal and spiritual growth. It allows us to be authentic as opposed to existing to please and satisfy the state. I constantly work with these themes in my writing, on a societal and personal level, especially in Unison.

Stories that have always resonated with me have a protagonist who goes off alone to solve his or her problems. The hero’s journey is natural to humans, which is why these type of stories have been repeated for thousands of years. Epics that depict dystopias show us the horrors of what happens when we’re forced to submission, such as in the Hunger Games. Oddly, in our current reality, many people don’t notice we’re headed in that direction at lightning speed. It’s truly uncanny to watch history repeating yet again while most of the population goes about their day acting as though nothing is amiss.  It’s quite a surreal time to be alive.

Libertarian Science Fiction

I recently discovered the genre of Libertarian science fiction. I never knew such a genre existed, and it makes me wish Amazon had it listed as a sub genre under sci-fi because I relate to it strongly. If I were to define my fiction, the interior stories of my books are very spiritual in nature. The outer story—where all the action takes place, is pure objectivist, which works in harmony with the Libertarian perspective. I make clear that the power of the individual is above all governments and man-made institutions. After all, they’re only ideas. Why would we place ideas above the humans who created them? Never made sense to me.

My cover for Unison represents the release and circulation of knowledge through the ages. While we’re not mortal, the knowledge our mind creates is immortal. Even when governments try to suppress that knowledge, it always finds it’s way back in. Knowledge and invention constantly get reused and improved upon. This truth is comforting, especially at this historical crossroad we find ourselves in. Knowledge is suppressed, and fluff is presented as news and entertainment. That can’t go on forever, and I suppose that’s another major reason I’m motivated to write. I want my stories to show the reader who’s looking for an alternative to the mainstream that they’re not alone and maybe put a smile on their face while doing it.

 


The Tao verse comes from Derek Lins’s translation of the Tao Te Ching. I highly recommend his website, and you can get information on how to order his book. I highly recommend it as he also has some useful notes that accompany each verse.

Jessie’s Song is Ready to Go Live and Gets 5 Stars!

Before I begin the post, I wanted to mention that Unison has been reviewed by Fiction For A New Age.  You can read the review here.

As of this week, I’ve completed the final proof of Jessie’s Song, and I’m happy to announce that it will be published on June 20th in eBook format at Amazon. The paperback version will be released in the fall. If you’d like to read the first chapter, you can do so here. I had so much fun working with the protagonist, Markos Adams, that I decided to start a new series with him. I ended up deleting the prologue and epilogue, which I liked immensely. Nevertheless, I’m truly excited to keep Markos’s story going. I’ve already started to plot out the next book.

Jessie’s Song is completely different in setting and tone than Unison. It’s still visionary fiction but told with an urban fantasy flavor. My lead characters always tend to interact with some humor and with urban fantasy, it felt organic to the storytelling style.

The protagonist, Markos Adams, is a Greek-American jazz guitarist and poet who also happens to make a killer baklava. I had fun using my culture in this book, particularly with coffee ground reading. I’ve also included some of Markos’s poetry at the end of the book, some of which has his sense of humor and some that also depict his love for his ex-wife and first love. It was a surreal experience to write love poetry from a male perspective, but we women know what we’d love to hear written about us in a poem! One of the poems from the book is here, and it’s going to be part of a charity anthology, Twist of Fate, to benefit the victims of the tornados that recently ravaged Oklahoma. As soon as the book becomes available, I’ll post the information on where to purchase the book. Being a part of the project inspired me to write more poems, and I plan on releasing a poetry book in the future.

Jessie’s Song Gets 5 Stars!

When I woke up this morning, I got my first review back from Jessie’s Song. It’s always great to get a glowing review before publishing.

Markos Adams, a well-known Jazz musician, has just committed yet another suicide attempt and it is all over the news. A year later, he is back on stage while struggling to shape up, trying to straighten out his life. Through his ordeals to keep his sanity, he spends time with his daughter Jessie, and still loves his ex-wife Stella, although they are no longer together. A day after his return to the spotlight, his daughter is abducted and things go out of hand. He must determine the identity of his daughter’s kidnapper; otherwise he feels he must kill himself and he must do so within the next twenty-four hours. Will this finally be Markos’s last day on earth, and will he face death without seeing his daughter?

“Jessie’s Song” is a wonderfully crafted mystery novel that explores themes of life, love, art, sanity and death, in rather unusual ways. When reading the book, it is as if various items were neatly packed in a box for us to enjoy unraveling and perusing piece by piece. Many portions of the book give us insights into art, what with the author also being a songwriter, among others. Fast-paced and action-packed, it is a most uncommon, yet exciting case of abduction to read about, written with thrilling passages and sequences. Moreover, the love that Markos shares with his daughter, and the strong emotions he still holds for his wife are absolutely heart-wrenching, especially as Markos struggles with his possibly impending death to save his daughter. “Jessie’s Song” is definitely worth keeping in one’s collection. I really enjoyed reading this book! – Maria Beltran  of Reader’s Favorite

Spiritual Objectivism – Part 4

The topic of spiritual objectivism has blossomed into something that seems to keep evolving. In my previous post, I explained where I separate from a purely objectivist stance, but I still resonate with objectivism philosophy because on the surface, it allows us to grow spiritually by championing us as individuals, which is what we are. It also frees us to be true visionaries where we can  nurture our talents without apology or guilt.

I’m now going to focus more on the spiritual angle in this post. This helps keep me grounded and humble. I’ll also demonstrate how a spiritual objectivist mindset keeps me free from forming new conditionings.

Authenticity

Authenticity has always been something I strive for. For me, being truly authentic means to outwardly express my true nature, as opposed to compromising to appease someone else’s ideology or belief. It sounds simple, but it took me years to reach this point.

Through my own spiritual practice, I recognized that Ayn Rand was correct: morals come from within us when we make decisions based on reason as opposed to some belief system. While religion may work for some people, it didn’t for me. It tied me down and kept me form learning. I had to let it go to grow. We all have our own paths to follow, and mine is a rebel’s path; sometimes frightening, sometimes weird, oftentimes both, but always fulfilling.

“Each man must live as an end in himself.” Ayn Rand

Most individuals throughout history are remembered because they dared to set their own path.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” The Buddha

Buddha was a Spiritual Objectivist!

The Buddha is a prime example of what it means to be an objectivist. He was quite a rebel! He found enlightenment only after he dared to break away from the religions of his time. He put himself through a lot of anguish to find enlightenment, including depriving himself of food. In the end, he had some rice pudding, sat under the Bodhi tree and became enlightened. He had to detach from everything he was told to believe in to get there.

A Parallel Journey

I view my kundalini awakening as the beginning of my spiritual journey, and I only use the term because it’s faster than saying, “A fountain of light exploded inside my head and plugged me into something vast and seemingly borderless.” Being Greek, I’d like to mention that the Greeks call the light experience, Hesychasm. Whatever name you want to call the light experience, it has nothing to do with what happened to the Buddha under the Bodhi tree. In fact, he had transcendental experiences and never tied them to any greater knowledge.

Like Gopi Krishna, I see kundalini as part of a biological/evolutionary process, but since it’s nothing I can prove, I don’t commit to any theory. What I can say is that it did dump a lot of data into my brain. I started to have a lot of visions. Some were of geometric shapes, which were hard for me to understand. It was up to me to learn how to utilize what I was receiving and why I was receiving it. How I thought and perceived the world became even more critical during this time in my life. It’s so easy to get swept up in visions and mystical experiences, and I kept myself grounded by not making any judgements on what I was seeing.

Kundalini forced me to ask questions and confront issues I refused to deal with in the past. It was as if something switched on inside me that refused to shut off. During the process, I felt that following an ideology—any ideology, would keep me from growing spiritually. This happened when I realized gurus and spiritual masters merely stated opinions because they were interpreting their experiences subjectively. And politicians were mortals who were no better or smarter than me. It moved beyond ideology when I realized I had created belief systems about me and the people in my life, all of which were mere opinions. It was epidemic! Once I gathered this, I gave up all forms of belief. It was the act of belief, as opposed to the ideology, that kept me from traveling forward.

I should mention here that I read about the Buddha’s journey after I went through my ideological dump. This further demonstrated to me that the genuine truth is learned from within us, irrespective of where we come from. The truth is literally universal, and we can all be Buddhas if we so desire.

The Surreal Years

The early years after I gave up belief was surreal. The world my personal dogmatism created was so different from the reality I was waking up to. In a sense, I was deprogramming myself from many years of conditioning. With that came a lot of releasing of pain, the healing of emotional scars and a bout with cancer, which happened during the time I brushed aside my spiritual practice.  They were also years of learning. I read many books, even ones that would be considered blasphemous. I was scared at first but then soon realized they were also ideologies. Now I can read any topic without fear of damnation. I was finally free from belief, or so I thought. Seeing how everything I ever believed in was written by a subjective interpretation, stated by a subjective mindset and taught by a subjective individual, I became an atheist for a while…until I realized atheism was another form of belief. It’ll get you every time!

And after all that, I was free from ideology. I could finally live free, as nature intended for us…as individuals that are born with an innate morality.

“It’s not about being right or wrong.  It’s all about the experience.”

I bring this phrase up again because it liberated me. It keeps me objective and allows me to take in and enjoy every experience. And for those experiences that are painful or difficult, I still immerse myself in them fully as all experiences in life teach us about ourselves. We can choose to ignore them or learn from them and evolve. The day I heard this phrase in my meditation is as important to me as my kundalini awakening and another event, which I’ll bring up in my next post. It goes to show you, the path to enlightenment is ongoing.

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

Love and light,

Eleni