Sunday, October 7, 2012

In Search of Passion

While heading toward the end of a six-year relationship, I consulted with my psychological/spiritual adviser "Dawn" who counseled that (among other things) I needed to inject some independent passion into my life. I reflected on Dawn’s assessment and, as usual, found it to be valid. My passions for playing drums and social dancing had been killed by severe tinnitus, and, in reality, loving my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend was the only active passion in my life. I decided to make finding a new passion a top priority.

In search of passion, I started to actively contemplate becoming a “Presenter” for Architects & Engineers (A&E) for 9/11 Truth, where I currently am on the Writing Team. I had become involved with 9/11 Truth initially in 2008, when Spirit brought me into it, and have remained active since that time. However, the passion has been there only in spurts, on a task-by-task basis. Becoming a Presenter would entail continually seeking out forums to bring to the public, the evidence, expert analysis, and videos demonstrating quite clearly that the U.S. government and a complicit mass media have actively covered up the truth about what really happened on 9/11.

With all this in mind in August 2012, I drove the hundred and ten miles from Brooklyn to Omega, the spiritual retreat center in Rhinebeck New York. There I would attend two John Perkins’ workshops: “Shapeshifting Into Leadership” (a weekend workshop), followed by five days of “Advanced Shapeshifting—Transforming Yourself & Our World.”

When registering for these workshops in the Spring, I had no thought of attending them with the goal of seeking a passion. The draw was something else entirely—John Perkins, whose workshops I’ve attended previously but not in seven years. What spurred me in John’s direction this time was that I’d been doing a few Internet radio shows (discussing my involvement with 9/11 Truth), and saw that John was on the very same show either just before or just after me, and/or John’s views were brought into the conversation by the host or a caller. The synchronicities resonated, and I could feel the pull. I called out to my spirit guides, “Seems you want me to attend John Perkins’ workshops at Omega this summer. Right?”



“To keep him honest,” was the clear and credible reply.

“Huh? What? What is there to keep him honest about? And who am I to keep John Perkins honest?”

No answer.

Nevertheless, taking this message from Spirit to heart, I registered for John’s workshops.

I’ve admired John Perkins for some time, after first having attended his 2002 Omega presentation of “A Gathering of Shamans” from around the world—a wonder-filled experience, a telling of which I’ve included in my book Into the Mystic (From the Streets of Brooklyn).  At the end of that Gathering, John publicly announced that he was turning over control of his Dream Change Coalition to a number of women in the organization. His Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was yet to be published.

After Confessions was released in 2005, I went to one of John’s early book signings at an auditorium in Manhattan, with my two daughters and friends. We all loved John’s message. To discover that John—a true devotee of shamanism—also had an intense political side, drew me toward him even more. I felt an even stronger connection when I heard John say on the radio show, Democracy Now, while promoting Confessions, “Don’t you think that the assassination of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and John Lennon and others like that, and the many senators that have died in airplane crashes and other things, has sent a strong message to your politicians?” Previously, NO ONE of mainstream or alternative media prominence had focused on how assassinations are key to understanding the politics of America. An NO ONE had ever noted that the assassination of John Lennon was a political event. For John Perkins to raise these issues on Democracy Now was, for me, awesome and inspiring. (For more on the John Lennon assassination, see Fenton Bressler’s book Who Killed John Lennon? a synopsis of which is here.)

Synchronistically, once I got to Omega for the shapeshifitng workshops, John kept stressing the importance of finding your own passion. “Passion is the only thing that works, ultimately,” he said. This message dovetailed nicely with the advice Dawn had given me, and my own goal to find passion.

Synchronistically again, after the first night’s workshop—where I had been wrestling with the idea of becoming a Presenter—I discovered a message on my cell phone from Richard Gage, the founder and driving force of A&E 911 Truth. Richard and I had never had a telephone conversation before. As I began to listen to Richard’s voice mail, I wondered whether he was going to ask me to become more active with A&E 911 Truth, and thereby indirectly confirm that becoming a Presenter should be my passion. As it turned out, Richard was simply soliciting a donation for a special college outreach project which sounded promising. I made a donation.

On the Saturday afternoon of the weekend workshop, the journey directive was to “Let go of all negativities and barriers” so that you could embrace your passion. I tried doing so with regard to becoming a 9/11 Truth Presenter, but the barriers kept striking me as legitimate, and I was not able to let go of them. After the journey, I shared my plight with the group and listed the negativities and barriers that would not yield. Specifically, I was extremely doubtful that my efforts would make a dent in bringing about an investigation into what really happened on 9/11, the process would be very time consuming, and I’d be going it alone.

John acknowledged that he’d like to see me continue being involved with 9/11 Truth because “Anytime we stand up to government, that’s a good thing.” Then he added insightfully, “But what I’m hearing is that you don’t really want this to be your passion.”

CLICK! John’s words resonated immediately. It was true. How did I not see this before? The truth was that I did not want to become a Presenter. And with that realization, what I did let go of was the idea to make that my passion. Not that I would forgo my current 9/11 Truth involvement—as a member of David Ray Griffin’s 9/11 Consensus Panel, as pro-bono counsel and advisor to the Remember Building 7 campaign, and as a member of the A&E writing team. But what I would not be doing was becoming a Presenter and making that my passion. Thanks much to John, for helping me realize that this.

That Sunday evening in between the weekend and weeklong workshops, I drove off campus and into town for a non-vegetarian meal with red wine (neither of which is on the Omega menu). I went to bed feeling very good but the feeling didn’t last long. At three in the morning I awoke with 40+ insect bites on my lower legs, and the fear was that the attackers were bedbugs. I put a plan of action on hold until after the Monday morning workshop.

At the Monday morning workshop, as he did over the weekend, John mentioned the different types of shapeshifting, beginning with “cellular shapeshift.” He told how people can physically shapeshift into another entity and mentioned a shaman in the Amazon who had supposedly shapeshifted into a bat, and a man at one of John’s workshops who had allegedly shapeshifted into a snake.

Wondering if John meant all this literally, I asked, “What did the people watching the shaman actually witness? Was it like the old Dracula movies where you see Bela Lugosi transform into a bat?”

John expanded on the story by saying that the shaman had promised that he was going to shapeshift into a bat on a certain night, and then when the night came, a bat appeared at the village gathering and the shaman was never seen again.

Frankly, I found the story to be thoroughly unconvincing, and asked further about the workshop participant who had allegedly shapeshifted into a snake. John said the guy started crawling around on the floor and took a swipe at John’s rattle, thinking that John was a rattlesnake. I asked John, “What did you see exactly? Did the guy in fact turn into a snake?”

John’s excited reply was “He looked like a snake to me!”

It struck me at this point that I was in the process of “keeping him [John] honest,” as I had been guided to do. Apparently someone in Spirit wanted this exchange to occur, and I was the tool for that. I didn’t press the point by cross-examining John about what other people at the man-to-snake workshop saw, what happened to the guy’s clothes when he supposedly turned into a snake, whether or not the guy changed back into human form before checking out of Omega, or whether he instead simply slithered off into the woods.

Following this somewhat uncomfortable exchange, an experienced Omega student raised his hand and told a story that he said he got from “shaman/healer/sage” Alberto Villodo. The story involved a shaman who was challenged by a student on the issue of whether a human can actually transform himself into a condor. In response, the shaman supposedly turned the student into a condor, to teach him a lesson. The moral of the story apparently being, “Don’t you dare ask your teacher probing questions about cellular shapeshifting, or you will be punished,” which struck me as patently absurd. I’m glad that John was much more open to my questioning him about cellular shapeshifting than the shaman in the Villodo story was.

In my view, any lecture on cellular shapeshifting has to be quite literal.  It’s one thing to be able to use a cellular shapeshift to, for example, eliminate a growth from your body.  {Someone who was once very near and dear to me actually did this. She was never into shamanism (and neither was I at the time) but intuitively did a shamanic self-healing on herself by envisioning a giant eraser and intending that it erase the growth from her body.  The disappearance of the growth was verified by x-rays and doctors, and her scheduled operation was canceled.}  It’s quite another thing to claim that humans can turn themselves into birds and trees and whatnot.  Until I witness that kind of cellular shapeshift, or hear credible witness testimony about it actually happening, I simply can’t allow myself to believe that it actually happens.  The Shuar claim that humans can transform themselves into trees and birds and whatnot rings as conscious myth-making to me, perhaps "justified" by their belief that the power of shapeshifting is thereby enhanced, resulting in a greater overall benefit to those who partake in shapeshifting.  A noble goal, to be sure.  However, I would prefer an approach that stresses the insistence on Truth, as espoused in Gandhi's Satyagraha.

After the Monday morning session, I went to the Omega first aid station where the young woman on duty examined my legs and said, “They look like bedbug bites.” She gave me the address for a doctor in town and I skipped the afternoon workshop to get the doctor’s take which turned out to be, “Insect bites, most likely bedbugs.” He also gave me over-the-counter ointment recommendations and directions on how to isolate my clothes in airtight black bags for a couple of days to smother the bedbugs. “That’s how you kill them,” he said. I followed the doctor’s advice and then went out and bought myself new clothes to wear for the rest of the week. (Luckily I was able to relocate to another cabin; the Omega staff was very accommodating in that regard.  Later, when I got home, my Manhattan dermatologist agreed that the bites were most likely bedbug bites, and two biopsies confirmed that diagnosis, in his view, to a 99.5% certainty.  Since the Omega maintenance staff and an independent exterminator had reported that they had found no bedbugs in my cabin, the question arises: If there were no bedbugs in the cabin I was in, where did the bites come from? A mystery. Maybe the bedbugs were just excellent at playing hide-and-seek, my dermatologist theorized.)

On Tuesday, I returned to the workshop and John said into the microphone before handing it to me, “And how are you doing, Dennis?”

I took the mike from John and told the circle in a kind of upbeat way, “Well I have what looked like insect bites on my legs but which also looked like poison ivy, so I went to the doctor in town to see what the story was. He said they were insect bites and that I am not contagious. I guess the bugs at Omega just love me.” Then I added, “When I came up here, I was hopeful of getting loved and bitten, but not in this way,” which got decent laughs and a playful head-rub from John that further brightened my morning.

Later, two back-to-back journeys helped me immensely on a highly personal level. The first journey involved looking at how we want to remold ourselves, and the second was the journey to the snake. Snakes, of course, do physically shapeshift by shedding their skin. They are extremely vulnerable during the transition, John noted, but then become something more powerful.

What came to me during those two journeys was to acquire some better fitting clothes (having happily gone back to my high school weight over the summer). I also was guided to shapeshift into a person who is less emotionally reactive, and more tolerant of my 91 year old mother’s ways. Further, I was to shapeshift into being: more willing to let go of my friend and lover of five years, more confident in approaching women in whom I become interested, okay with living alone, more restrained when it comes to wine consumption, and more open to the idea of celebrating an upcoming birthday milestone in a special way. Finally, I was to revive (to a limited extent) my former passions of dancing and drumming. ALL of which I have begun to do, in earnest, as part of an overriding effort to reclaim joy.

The idea that I should strive to reclaim joy would not actually manifest until Thursday morning’s soul retrieval exercise. I journeyed to the middle world of dream, back to St. Mark’s schoolyard, to a fateful day when I about ten years old. It was my very first trip to the schoolyard on a Saturday and I was running all around, having a ball, and feeling tremendously joyous. From out of nowhere, a bully’s devastating punch to the stomach knocked the wind and the joy right out of me, doubling me over in pain.

After revisiting that event, the journey continued with me searching for my lost soul part in the school auditorium. On the stage, behind some folded-up bleachers, I discovered hundreds if not thousands of soul parts belonging, I felt, to the children of St. Mark’s who had been traumatized by the Roman Catholic nuns, schoolyard bullies, and perhaps priests.

Following the journey, I shared all this with the full workshop, noting that after that punch to the stomach, “I don’t think I ever reached that level of joy again.” But my real concern was for the lost soul parts I had discovered and I asked John for guidance on whether it was my place to go back and try to help them.

John advised that my focusing on the lost soul parts was “a distraction.” He suggested that for my own good, I needed to go back and heal the part of me that was damaged in the schoolyard.

One of the women in the circle suggested that I journey back to that moment in time and call on someone there to help me and to tell the bully, “You don’t do that.” I did so later, and the process did indeed help me reclaim some lost joy.

Another woman in the group asked me if I had forgiven the bully. I honestly replied, “Yes.” She then suggested, “Maybe there is something to forgive myself about.” I thought about that and answered, “I can’t really think of anything unless maybe feeling bad that I didn’t go after the guy with a stickball bat or something.”

Later, before breaking for lunch, John directed that we go into Nature and send out thru the right hand and into a tree or rock or plant—whatever we were drawn to—the negative energy from the experience we had just journeyed on. We were also to reach out and bring back the lost soul part thru the left hand. John pointed out that this was NOT a verbal exercise. You just do it, as a matter of intention.

In accordance with John’s instructions, I wandered off to the Omega Meditation Center back near the woods. There, I intended to and did release all of the negative energy from the stomach-punch experience into a receptive tree, and then intended to and did retrieve the lost soul part thru my left hand. All with the help of the earth, sun, and trees, it seemed.

During the process, it came to me that I needed to forgive myself for not being “brave” in the schoolyard and, as I had speculated earlier, for not going after the bully with a stickball bat. In those days, in that ’hood, you fought with your hands, not weapons, I remembered. Also, while I was ten years old at the time, the big bully was twelve—and that’s a huge difference at that age. With this perspective, forgiving myself came easy, and I felt all the better for it. Returning to the workshop after lunch, I thanked both women for their input, suggestions, and support.

At the fire ceremony that night, I had an especially good time, validating that I had begun to recapture joy. Came Friday morning and I was rehearsing in my mind what “vibration” to say into the mike that was passed around after the usual dance-and-greet that began each workshop session. I had chosen to actually sing the words “Movin’ on, movin’ on” from Stevie Wonder’s There’s a Place in the Sun, because my girlfriend and I, via email, had just mutually agreed to end our tumultuous five-year relationship, and “move on” (her words). Interestingly, for the first time, the mike wasn’t passed around the circle as it was every other morning, and I never did get a chance to do my Stevie Wonder impression. Instead, John, looking a bit sad, announced that he was not going to be doing some workshops he had scheduled because he was “going off in a different direction.” Synchronistically, while discussing this upcoming transition, John used the phrase “move on” four separate times. Synchronistically again, at around the time of the first John Perkins workshop I had ever attended some eleven years before, another friend/lover and I were also moving on from one another.

As of this writing, it’s two months after the workshop. In retrospect, on one level, it may seem that my search for passion was unsuccessful because I didn’t actually find a passion. Yet there is no doubt that the things I was able to accomplish at the workshop occurred while (and maybe because) I was preoccupied with a search for passion. I feel that my experiences here were an illustration of how magic can happen indirectly. For example, say you have a hunch to take a different walking route to your favorite park. You trust and follow your intuition and along the way meet an old friend that you haven’t seen in years. As a result of the encounter, you and your old friend soon become fabulous lovers—a reward for trusting and following your intuition.

In my situation, I was advised by both Dawn and John—two people I trust and admire—to search for passion. This was after I had accepted the assignment from Spirit to “keep him [John] honest.” I ended up doing what Spirit wanted while not even attempting to do so—it just happened while I was in the midst of a search for passion and participating in the workshop that Spirit had nudged me to attend. Was it merely a coincidence or did my search for passion somehow facilitate my completing the assignment? I believe the latter.

Having accepted and completed the assignment from Spirit, personal rewards followed, which has happened before. I avoided the serious error of becoming a Presenter, recaptured significant joy, and became a more positive person who is less emotionally reactive, more tolerant, and taking productive steps in a number of different directions. Finally, I have been reviving former passions of dancing and drumming, and it’s been a blast so far. I feel confident that these dramatic changes—manifested in this reality by journeying to the Spirit World—will be long lasting. A true shapeshift for which I am most grateful.

Postscript.  As I think back, I had never before in my life searched for passion.  Passion always found me.  Further, I am not at all convinced that we are somehow lesser human beings if we don’t have an active passion, or that we need to commence an active search for passion if we find ourselves without one.  That might be one way to go, and admittedly (and thankfully) this approach worked for me at the workshops.  However, the search for passion almost took me into an activity (Presenter) that deep down, I really didn’t want, and that likely would have led to unhappiness and discontentment.  For me, it is quite okay to simply engage in activities that you are drawn to, and allow passion to manifest naturally, of its own accord.


Jodi @ heal Now and Forever said...

This is a beautiful and thorough account of your time at Omega, weaving the work with the joy, the loss with the passion, learning and teaching. You embraced your time and all of us with you. Thank you for being so open to whatever came and flowing with in. May the passion in your heartbeat speak through your drum and the joy in your soul be allowed to dance!

Dennis P. McMahon said...

thanks much, jodi!

Samantha Thomas said...

Hi Dennis! Thank you for sharing your personal stories and your experience at Omega, it was quite the treat to read! I'm so happy to hear about your positive transformations post workshop; a true shape shift indeed. Also, I can totally relate in regards to your comments on passion, and absolutely agree! What a beautiful and eloquent way of seeing things. Best wishes, Samantha

Samantha Thomas said...

Hi Dennis! Thank you for sharing your personal stories and your experience at Omega, it was quite the treat to read! I'm so happy to hear about your positive transformations post workshop; a true shape shift indeed. Also, I can totally relate in regards to your comments on passion, and absolutely agree! What a beautiful and eloquent way of seeing things. Best wishes, Samantha

Dennis P. McMahon said...

thanks very much, samantha!

Anonymous said...

Dennis. Thank you so much for sharing this regarding your experience at Omega. It brought back memories for me which have been blurred since attending. And thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about passion. I have been searching for my passion for a long time and your insights I know will be helpful.

Dennis P. McMahon said...

you're welcome, stan. thanks much for the feedback. glad to hear that you feel my insights will be helpful.