Paths of Light

Francois O'Haly
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter Revelation 1:18 – 19 There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. Buddha

Chapter 3: A Short ( Very Short ) Spiritual Biography
Heaven is in everything: follow the light, hide in the cloudiness and begin in what is. Do this and your understanding will be like not understanding and your wisdom will be like not being wise. By not being wise you will become wise later. Chuang Tzu (c.360 BC - c. 275 BC) Source: The Book of Chuang Tzu (Arkana S.), Page: 223 I don't suffer from insanity but enjoy every minute of it - Edgar Allan Poe Just as the highest and the lowest notes are equally inaudible, so perhaps, is the greatest sense and the greatest nonsense equally unintelligible. - Allan Watts Perseverance in (seeking to gain) the knowledge of the Supreme Spirit, and perception of the gain that comes from knowledge of the truth: This is called knowledge : all that is contrary to this is ignorance. Bhagavad Gita 13:11 There is no great genius without some touch of madness. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca, "On Tranquility of the Mind," Moral Essays A crisis of a powerful illness can also be the central experience of the shaman's initiation, It involves an encounter with forces that decay and destroy... Illness thus becomes the vehicle to a higher plane of consciousness. - Joan Halifax.

At age 21 after 4 years of being a very very intense Marxist and a pseudo wanna be communist revolutionary, after beginning at the age of 19 to experiment, intensely as well, with hallucinogenic drugs I found myself beginning to lose my mind. Having studied ancient African history I had a very firm belief in what I believed made sense to me which was what I considered to be African philosophy. My interest in Africa in turn had originated through my love for the music of hip hop during late 80s and early 90s and the vibrant philosophical

discourse that I felt moved through the rap music of that era, (I even went vegetarian right after I heard the song “beef” written by Krs-One of BDP). I in a desperate attempt to make sense of the extremely unsettling inevitability of my own insanity instinctively found myself in the library looking for books on Shamanism which of course stemmed from my confidence in the history of ancient Africa as especially laid out in some books I had read written by Basil Davidson. My years walking thru the murky muck of insanity were given validity and purpose because of an author I discovered that day in the Douglas College library, Holger Kalweit, the author of two books, “Shamans, Healers, and Medicine Men”and “Dreamtime and Inner Space”. Holger Kalweit was or is a scholar who studies shamanism in the worlds most 'primitive' cultures essentially living with and learning from Shamans who are for the most part still part of the ancient Shamanic tradition that stretches back to our earliest human ancestors. Anyways besides for recommending these two books to everyone, as far as my own spiritual journey is concerned, Holger Kalweit makes it clear to the reader the roll that 'madness' plays in the shamanic tradition. It is madness and insanity, that was celebrated in all ancient tribal culture from Siberia to the Amazon because it was madness and insanity that signaled the calling of a true Shaman, a Healer, to the world. It was only through the utter extremities of true insanity that the prospective healer gained the ability to begin his or her training as a person trained in the magical arts for the benefit of his or her community. It was through pain and suffering, through the death and dismemberment of the limited ego that the shamanic super ego was born capable of integrating itself into and communicating with the spirit realms. By experiencing true sickness and healing him or herself from it the human being gains the needed insight and skill to help heal others.
The sicknesses that arise as a result of a calling are surely the highest form of illness -- a sacred illness which by its power makes it possible for mystical and metaphysical insights to arise... this frequently happens without regard to the feelings and wishes of the chosen one, who, in most cases, is not aware of the fact that his body is undergoing an initiation. - Holger Kalweit

Interestingly enough I have heard that Australian Aboriginals are so connected to their primordial roots that they don't even have Shamans because all members of their community hold that sacred power, not anymore probably but fairly recently anyways. Needless to say I have often wondered where my own life would have wandered if I had not discovered these writings when I had. I would like to think that myself being of a very confident philosophical nature would of found the same answers in other writings. I would not like to think that I was close to being institutionalized, as it is I did actually spend a month in psychiatric care at one point. It would be comforting to think that the spirits themselves led me to my salvation that day in the library when it occurred to me that I should learn about Shamanism. However the massive amount of people in one way or another absolutely lost in the pure insanity of the western world's idea of psychiatric care might make this thought an illusion. The insane helping the insane. Remember though that I was a die hard Marxist, a hip hop guy and a pseudo African philosopher so the actual chance of me really buying into and

getting lost in the westernized worlds definition of 'mental health' was probably very slim. People have questioned me on my years of insanity as in, “you are 'weird' but I don't know if I believe that you were truly 'insane'”. To paraphrase briefly, the major feature, probably not the right word, of insanity for me was capital p Paranoia. And in retrospect insanity was maybe even made more insane in a way because of my new Shamanic world view. I was a person with a kind of telepathic turrets syndrome whereas I could not control what I was thinking and I was thinking too loud so people could hear me. My paranoia was spreading paranoia and I felt that everywhere I went people were extremely extremely agitated that I was in the vicinity getting in their heads unwillingly and spreading bad vibes and fear. Getting out of the house became an utterly horrible experience for me. Physically I was so nervous that in public my body would shake uncontrollably. I was when alone involved with frantically reading any type of spiritual literature I could find, in desperately trying to telepathically communicate with objects of nature for some sort, any sort of assistance, or sitting in the forest trying to pull off an epic Jesus Christ type of fast which was how Holger Kalweit said the Shamans reached the realm of spirits and gained their magical powers. I was at all times on the verge of tears, facing a level of frustration and fear that I would never ever wish on even my greatest enemies (metaphorically, I try to believe I don't have enemies). My insanity and paranoia at times multiplied and reached epic proportions because in the years prior, beginning during my time as a kind of self styled Marxist shit disturber at Simon Fraser University (and a potential 'rap superstar' even though I had never recorded a rap song), I started experimenting with hallucinogenics. LSD, magic mushrooms, and marijuana became Christ like religious entities in my mind. After entering my so called 'insane' period I could not bring myself to completely quit smoking marijuana even though my experiences after smoking made me so fearful I wouldn't of been any less relaxed being tied up in a room with an ax murderer. Marijuana was 'God' at that time to me. And I had listened to enough nineties hip hop and Bob Marley to know that it truly was. One night I hooked up with some friends from Saskatoon who were staying in Vancouver, I had a few beers with them so I was relatively relaxed, relaxed enough to head out to a musical festival with them. I even hooked up with a girl for like 5 minutes on a couch before my friend hooked up with her for the rest of the night so for a few hours I felt good for maybe the first time in a few years. That was about to change, when we got to the festival after we set up our tents it was time to get blazed. I felt good maybe this would be my joyful reunion with my closest companion with 'God' really. I mean I used to get high, close my eyes and astral travel. Anyways getting high turned out to be the most painful experience of my life. Whereas at other times I had been high and felt like I was in like a few dozens of peoples heads spreading my fear and having my fear multiplied by their fear now I was in however many thousands of people's heads making the paranoia impossibly orders of magnitude larger than the already unbelievably extreme paranoia that I not only felt on a day to day basis but felt at other times magnified when I had gotten high. Basically I felt this way for like 6 or 7 hours balled up in a tent so nervous I was probably on the verge of having heart failure thinking as well that people were going to come and kill me because of the darkness I was involuntarily spreading into their minds. So after hours and hours

of this I finally had come down enough whereas I could leave the tent and get the hell out of the park and away from the festival. As I walked out of the park and turned onto the sidewalk, the sun rose at that moment and filled me with a feeling of joy and bliss that somehow even eclipsed the intensity of the paranoia that I had felt for hours earlier. That spirit with whom I had spent hours and hours talking to on various LSD trips smiled at me with a force that disintegrated my ego completely. Bathed in fire all of my insanity burned away in an eternal moment of poetry, of ancient wisdom, I was that great mythical phoenix rising from the ashes, I was God I was Jesus Christ I was Buddha, I was the continuation of that great line of prophets and poets that stretched back to the beginning of time, with every ounce of being in what truly was self realization. I placed my hands together across my stomach in a show of great humility and with tears of joy swelling in my eyes and rolling down my cheek I walked through crowds of people and every single person was happy to see me. Every single person sent me love with their thoughts and that love came back into my mind and then reflected again into the world and in every direction in the world there was perfect happiness and stillness. For the first time in my life I was as I was, I was that great traveler who had walked through lifetimes of eternity at all times bearing the light of the infinite. From the darkest depths of the mind, the very darkest, the absolute, the complete negation of the mind to, in a mere moment, the extreme opposite, the highest heights of realization of experience of joy and bliss and union with the eternal soul. Enlightenment.
The threefold sequence of illness, self-healing and the development of healing powers is a universal, transpersonal pattern that we are still far from understanding, Evidently illness can unleash fundamental forms of psychic knowledge that far surpass the normal expressions of intellect and feeling. - Holger Kalweit The idea of the wounded healer is ubiquitous throughout the more traditional or native health care practices, It implies that some kind of personal transformation or inner work or crisis was encountered. This event then directed a mission and imbued the healer with unusual knowledge about the way of things. In particular, the notion of the wounded healer has been associated with the shaman. By the term shaman, I do not mean the tribal medicine man or woman, nor the herbalist, nor the bone setter, although the shaman might well practice those skills as well as shamanism. Primarily, though, the shamans are those individuals who have the gift of great insight into the human condition, and who have attained wisdom concerning the realms of the spirit. - Jeanne Achterberg

Needless to say I felt pretty good that day. On that day I began another journey. In the 13 years after that day from exploring my enlightenment through trial and error from not being enlightened to being enlightened but not entirely understanding enlightenment from not being enlightened and thinking I was enlightened and back and forth and back again as well as experimenting with hallucinogenics again not for one single moment have I felt the least bit 'insane' in the same sense that I did during those dark years of my life. Yes I like to refer to myself sometimes as being insane like a proud black man will call himself a 'nigger', with pride, remember 'definitions'. Being insane is something I am not afraid of. It has been my journey through insanity that has brought me here. With

the writing of this, my first book, I feel like I am now embarking on another new journey. The fourth stage of my life thus far.
The idea that loneliness and suffering are the anvil upon which great shamans are forged runs deep, In shamanistic cultures, one finds time and again the notion that the greater the preparatory suffering, the greater the shaman, and the initiations some have passed through are indeed horrendous. This is the case whether the sufferings are from outward causes or appear to be only subjective, passed through in fevered dream or vision, and characteristically we are at a loss to know on which level to impute them. - Robert Ellwood