Descending the long staircase from the main building to the pool, the smell of mango is heavy in the air. The heat has caused the leaves of the mango trees to sweat. It has sucked the scent from them and the wind has brought it to the people as an offering. Costa Rica is a cornucopia of smells. Rich, overpowering polarities of scent like sweet fruit against earthy moss.
We are embarking on our fifth retreat at our retreat center, Philia. It is turning into exactly what I envisioned, a shamanic platform for transformation. I see the people who are coming here going through metamorphosis every day. Sometimes I feel like this is a spiritual birthing ground where everyone is somewhere in the process of the labor of self delivery. I see the flux of introspection and interaction. This place is like a container for all of this. In Costa Rica you feel disconnected from the rest of the world. You cannot feel the pulse of society. It feels like a separate world with separate rules and a separate pace that has been existing unbeknownst to the other world where most people live. And within that separate world is Philia, which in and of itself feels like another miniature world that is cut off even from the world of Costa Rica.
Sometimes, I leave this property and feel like I have woken up from the depths of a dream. Many shamanic journeys taken on a plant medicine make you intensely present, but within that deep presence it reveals different dimensions that feel “out there within”. You feel like you are dreaming and awake at the same time. This place, being shamanic land, feels exactly like that. The second you enter the gate; you feel the heavy, epic feeling of a dimension just below what meets the eye. You feel it waiting for you. You feel all the multi dimensional energies at play below the surface of things. It feels like the statues may come alive. It feels like the trees are watching you. It feels like a marriage between sanctuary and shadow. This land is not the kind of land that soothes. It is the kind of land that catalyzes. It is no mistake given the intensity of its nature that it fell into my hands.
I was joking with this week’s attendees that if I could afford it, I would buy a second center. The second center would be a center that is the embodiment of angelic calm, safety, soothing, gentleness and lightness. That way, people could come here to have their world catalyzed and to do the deep work of personal transformation. And after, they could go to the other retreat where the softness of the place would settle the changes into their being. A bit like the trauma of birth is followed by the softness of mother’s arms and mother’s milk. Perhaps it will become a serious plan of mine for the future.
I love this land. Places like this, they steal a part of your soul and they wont let go. And I love these people. People like this, they also steal a part of your soul. My career takes me to all corners of the globe. On these various journeys, I have met the best of people. It has felt like once there was one stone that cracked into a thousand pieces and those pieces were scattered across different countries around the world. Slowly (being one of these pieces that was divided from the main stone), I have been finding the other pieces of that stone and bringing them together with one another. But now with Philia, I have a place for all of them to come together in one place. Like the stone is uniting once again. All my lost family in one place at one time. It is the dream of the child in me that had no friends in a land where no one and nothing was like me. It is the dream of belonging. It is incredible what you can create if you initiate it.
I love the different flavors of the retreats being held here. Each one is like a dive into specific waters. One week it will be a dive into shadow work, the next it will be a dive into femininity, the next it will be a dive into conflict resolution, the next it will be a dive into detoxing the self and you can feel the ripple effect of the expansion that is the inevitable result of that exploration that is taking place here. It is an epicenter of change.
Speaking of that change, in this last retreat I really realized that one reason I upset people so much as a teacher in the world is that more like a revolutionary, I am calling for change. At face value, all spiritual teachers call for change. The change from unloving to loving. The change from imprisoned to free. But most spiritual teachers, teach you how to cope with the world. The self-help and the spiritual field is littered with this pollution called “coping”.
It is a universal truth that if you shift what is within, what is without will change in perfect alignment with it. And I am expected (in accordance with these higher dimensional truths) to look at you and say that there is nothing wrong with this world. But I have one observation and one question after observing this world. The observation is that everything we eat, every action we take, every decision we make, every relationship we get into, every retreat we attend is done so that we can feel better. Every minute of our lives is spent clambering to feel better. The question is where are we and what kind of world is this that we have created if every action we take is an action to try to feel better in it? What kind of world have we created if we have to teach our children how to cope with it?
The dream that will not die in me is the dream relating to the world and of changing the world into something that people don’t have to cope with. The blessing of people like myself who were born incapable of coping with the current world is that we have only one decision to make... Willingly die to leave the world or willingly alter the world.
There is a concept in biology that certain species, like amphibians, are barometer species. They are the indicators of the health or inevitable collapse of an ecosystem. They will be the first to die if something that is unhealthy for the entire ecosystem is introduced. People like me are the barometers for humanity. What we cannot cope with, is what is in fact unhealthy for all people. If we would follow the lead of these ‘barometer people’, by creating the kind of system that is suitable for them, we would by default be creating a world that is suitable for all people on this earth and people would not have to cope with the world. Instead, they could live.
My intention is to make Philia and then the intentional communities that we will start here in the future, the pilot for a world like this dream that will not die in me. We can then take that way of relating to the world and those ways of changing the world out across the world, like a ripple that begins in one center point but eventually reaches the furthest edges of the lake.
The giant chime outside is being tickled by the wind. It lets out heavy harmonious tones in response to the touch as if its music is its laughter. I walk through the hallway and I can see that on each bed, in each room is a frequency-painting duvet. They are twisted and braided with the bed sheets. Even messy instead of flat, the frequencies project just as strongly into the room. They emanate to the degree that the air in every room is entirely entrained with the specific frequency of the bedding chosen for that room. The artist in me loves the feeling of the un made beds. They are lived in. The warmth of breath and movement is still alive in them. The workshop attendees have taken an hour’s journey to the ocean to drink out of coconuts while laying on the sand of a calm, white sand beach. Even the silence they have left behind is not silent. It is alive with the welcome residue of their presence here. Each moment here is poetic.
I am being called down to the river today. I will walk up it to the waterfall. Deep under the canopies of trees, whose branches are so enmeshed with each other that they shut out the light, I will walk against the current. It seems a metaphor for what my life feels like since being born here to this planet. It seems a metaphor for the direction my purpose has taken me in the world. A metaphor because following the current of my own river downstream, faces me instantaneously against the current of the rest of society and often against the current of the rest of the world. But there is no other way to be. There is no other way to live but to follow the current of your own river.