The Lakota chants are a summons to the warrior within. I am being recruited to walk the path of integrity, humility, and compassion. The medicine that is ayahuasca tea first brought me to my knees revealing the posturing of a false self, constructed to survive repeated failures of love in my early years. Now, in a vision, a tribe of indigenous warriors are initiating me into the Order of the Pure Heart. A spectacular owl’s wing, both comforting and awe-inspiring is gathering me in. The steady drum beat resonates with the rhythm of my heart. “Sit up straight. Draw your shoulders back. Give your heart room. Be proud. You are needed. Come to the campfire.”
We are being recruited, always, to walk either the path of love and integrity, or the path of darkness and violence. The way truly is narrow. It’s an on/off proposition. Either you are in or you are out. Being stuck in the middle is hell. It’s nowhere. It’s the state of not having made a decision to be all in. It is the condition of distrust that the universe was made for us and we were made for it. Not deciding is a decision in its own right. In the medicine you see that animating this Great Unfolding, this Ever-Generative Matrix, is an intelligence that is both loving and demanding. The more we resist the more insistent it becomes. Until we turn away from the light. Which is also a turning toward the darkness. Still the holy summons is eternal, persistent. The only way to ignore its invitation is through distraction. Much addiction, whether drugs, alcohol, porn, television, personal devices, relationships, or a mind that won’t stop thinking, is a way of drowning out this eternal summons.
Christianity has given recruitment a bad name. What I mean by recruitment is not proselytizing. There’s no religion behind what I’m talking about, no ideology claiming absolute status and no threats of eternal punishment or promises of heaven. The path is itself the reward. It’s the way back to intensity, a condition that grants absolute value to life. Jesus knew this, but the church turned recruitment into a tool of survival and domination. He wasn’t recruiting to a religion. His was a call back to life itself. He was simply saying, Walk in The Way, and you will enter the Kingdom of God, a state of consciousness that is always, already available, because it is Life itself lived with full intensity and integrity. When we walk in The Way, we discover our own inestimable worth and the depths of our own beauty. Only when we know this about ourselves will we be able to see it and celebrate it in others.
The darkness also recruits, make no mistake. The world seems set up to take the shine off our radiance, to remind us in various ways that we are not that special after all. By the time most of us reach adulthood, we have been recruited by this world, in a thousand ways, to take up the task of diminishing this intrinsic radiance, including with our own children. We enact what has been enacted upon us. The light of every soul that comes into this world is experienced as a judgment on the darkness. It must either be diminished or we will have to face the trauma which was always intended to remove the unbearable shine of our being.
I never truly understood the prologue of John’s gospel until i drank the sacred tea. Each of us is the word made flesh. Each of us is born as light and beauty, shining in the darkness. The darkness does not always receive us. For our light reveals what is in the hearts of those charged with our care. The reason that Mary has achieved near divine status, at least in the Roman Catholic church, is that she was one of the rare souls capable of bearing the radiance of the newborn Jesus. The darkness recruits human beings whose own light has been diminished to take the shine off of ours. This is Herod energy in its fullest expression. But it exists as well more subtly in families. For our beauty and goodness implicitly stand in judgment of the world of darkness. Either that judgement sears the heart and effects a turning back to the light. Or it evokes wrath. Case in point, the story of Jesus.
Ayahuasca leads us home by first taking us into the pain we endured in the great diminishment that is our childhood. She will show us the exact ways our light was diminished. She will show us everything, until our tears of grief have washed away all bitterness, rage, and hatred. And then, we will turn to ourselves perhaps for the first time, utter the words we had long ago longed to hear, and were our birthright: “You are so beautiful. You are so beautiful.” And we will know them to be true. This is the same beauty with which we can now behold the world.
The sound of the drum rises up through my spine, straightening it. I feel my strength, my dignity, my worth. I ask for the grace and the humility to be worthy of the Order of the Pure Heart, knowing it is a path of service, not privilege. I receive my life mission: Go, comfort the broken-hearted. Restore their dignity. Start with yourself. Blessed be.