Tag Archives: Perception

After the Transfiguration

In the last installment of our transfiguration discussion, I described how any living being is one great interconnected organism, conducting life-generating force through its every cell–be it a microbe, a plant, an animal, an insect, a human, or a planet. This interconnected network is conducting living-light energy and promoting the evolution of every single living organism within its larger context, whether we are conscious of it or not.

But our level of consciousness does determine how much of the generous flow of life force we actually receive from this energy network. If we’re not consciously connected with it, we are doomed, like fish out of water, to struggle for basic sustenance. To exacerbate matters, when we cut ourselves off from the conducting network, we consequently also harm all the organisms and living systems that we interact with. Our lack of support triggers the demise of our fellow organisms, and that negative ripple effect triggers a continuous downward spiral into collective non-viability.

We are all dependent upon each other to maintain life-generating conductivity. Our failure to participate, to help conduct positive energy, causes all living things around us to degenerate. For example, when we cut down trees, we receive less oxygen, robbing ourselves and other oxygen-dependent organisms of our most basic sustenance. When we pollute the air, we breathe in unnatural amounts of carbon monoxide, which causes system-wide disease. When we spray methane gas on the plants we eat, we feed ourselves the very toxicity we have introduced to the earth, creating cancers instead of bringing nourishment.

The result leaves humankind gasping for life. However, our culture is so far removed from unity consciousness, from honoring the true source of our health and happiness, that we are like fish out of water, flapping and struggling and gasping for air, feeling that something is missing but not sure what. What is missing, of course, is the ocean.

How do you show someone who is hypnotized that he is hypnotized? You can’t. You can only present information and exercises that may help to dissolve the mental lull. Just as some are more easily hypnotized than others, some are more receptive to coming out of it than others. This is what the art of transfiguration offers – an opportunity to awaken from the hypnosis!

The process is purifying. It lifts the veils of misperception, clearing the way for true perception and self-actualization. When the hypnosis is broken, you can see for yourself what life is made of, you can recognize that you are designed to be a vital part of a much larger network, and you can start to reconnect with it. Seeing is the biggest leap, because with sight comes understanding, with understanding comes resolve, and with resolve comes the courage to defy the herd mentality that has led us astray and journey back to the Source.

So the goal is reconnection. Reconnection brings deep healing and, ultimately, full self-actualization: full awareness of what’s real, of what we are made of and capable of, and the ability to act accordingly. There is nothing more life-affirming than to awaken to the beauty and power of this living-light network. It’s like flipping a switch and awakening from a nightmare of doom and gloom to a whole world of possibility. This is the purpose of the art of transfiguration. Transfiguration is not an end unto itself. It is a pathway out of hypnosis to clarity.

This is why I have been like a dog with a bone on this topic. I feel this awakening from the nightmare is the most essential undertaking for us all now. If we don’t wake up, we’ll spend the rest of our lives in a losing battle with disease, weight gain, mental illness, and countless other modern ailments. We’ll forever be like fish out of water, gasping and flailing about on the floor of a boat, when all we ever needed to do is jump back into the water, which is all around us!

Transfiguration is not about becoming someone else or turning into something else. Rather, it’s a way to return to our natural element, to reconnect with the Source, to tap into its healing energy and wisdom. The goal of transfiguration is to awaken from hypnosis, to begin to feel whole again, and ultimately blossom into a full human being.

From this perspective, you can see yourself more clearly; the impulse to judge and blame falls away; forgiveness of others and of yourself comes more easily; and you calmly see the difference between the way you used to perceive the world and how you see it all now. You become, in a word, sane.

The Biggest Lie

In his 1925 autobiography, Mein Kampf, Hitler coins the term “the big lie,” which refers to a form of propaganda that pivots on telling a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe anyone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” A “certain force of credibility” runs through this big lie so people will find it easy to accept. Of course, in accusing an entire people of this falsehood, he was employing the very technique that he was describing, and would continue to do so toward the most monstrous ends.

But don’t think for a moment that any of us are safe from the machinery of “the big lie” today. This enduring, insidious force is very much alive, woven into the very roots of our society.

In our times, governments and corporations still heavily employ “the big lie” psychology with enormous success, their minions none the wiser. In fact, just about all the foundational aspects of our culture can be traced back to one of their big lies: they have convinced us of what to consume, what to put on and in our bodies, what to expect of our health, and what to expect out of life. We accept this way of life because we believe it is correct and created for our highest good, or at least the best that we can expect, given humankind’s extensive shortcomings and iniquitous wiring (which we also accept).

The biggest lie is that it’s all okay—that while our culture may not be perfect, it is the best way of life imaginable thus far, and if we just keep following this trajectory, we’ll eventually make things even better. That is THE BIGGEST LIE!

One BIG TRUTH is that we are consuming our planet at warp speed and we are very close to the point (if we’re not already there) where we cannot save it. While everyone now agrees that change is necessary, few people seem to grasp just how dire the situation is, certainly not enough to reject the entrenched norms. No sane organism devastates the organism that feeds and supports it. Consider what cancer and autoimmune diseases are: cells that attack the healthy cells and tissue (or blood, bone, lymph) of the body.

Worse still, we have bought the diversion that merely recycling and buying more environmentally conscious products and vehicles will offset this devastation in a meaningful way. We should be as conscious as we can, yes, and obviously we should reduce, recycle, and reuse. Any awake, thinking person can figure that out!

Here’s what really has to happen: we must stop consuming products that are produced by large corporations and made from commonly raised animals and sea life. This is the only way to halt the deadly march of corporations who wreak destruction on us all while reaping the riches of the big lie! It is no exaggeration to say that they, along with everyone who purchases their products, are raping the planet, snuffing out life and deranging the biomass of the animals they raise. Clearly, this should not only be illegal, but there should be some global policy against it. There are laws, yes, but they don’t apply to those who can pay others to look the other way.

Here’s the thing: these factions can only keep up this nonsense so long as people keep buying what they are selling. Consumers need to stop buying their products and thereby put them out of business. It’s really that easy. Yes, jobs would be lost—many jobs—but the beauty of creative destruction is that something better will spring up in its place for these workers. Keeping people employed is not a good enough reason to perpetuate the carnal consumption of our precious resources. Convenience is not a good enough reason. Fear of change is not a good enough reason. Tell me one reason that is good enough—I surely cannot think of one! Yet I can think of countless reasons to support changing our way of life!

We have been brainwashed into wanting and craving and thinking we need all sorts of rubbish as we suffocate our bodies and spirits and kill off the life around us. In this way, we continually fatten these corporations, which couldn’t care less about the future of our planet—they care only about the here and now, plundering more resources for money and power. And we sit around and let them do it! Just as generations before us sat around and watched the genocide of indigenous cultures as colonialists wiped them out in the name of expansion, discovery, and exploration. Just as we sit around and wear pink ribbons and hold social functions to raise money for childhood diseases instead of seeing that our way of life is the cause of all those cancers, emotional imbalances, learning disabilities, and so on. We just nod along to the hypnotic cadence of the news reporters’ iambic pentameter as they dish up the gobbledygook.

I’m just sick of it. And frankly, I’m tired of being polite about it. What’s the point of being polite now? Polite to whom, and at whose expense? What about being polite to the life of our planet, the ecosystems, the animals being pushed out of their habitats, or to our own sick bodies and spirits? I am guilty of imposing some of these expected limitations on my own children, who are so beautifully instinctual; in a world restrained by social disciplines, I’m the first to admit what a slave I’ve been to their rules. I try to remind myself that my children need to know both the world’s ways and the alternative ways of living. I tell myself that this is how to arm them with the knowledge and experience necessary to become effective “bridgers.” I am trying to dance the dance that is required in this shadowy, transitional era.

But what do you say to a world that would rather eat cheap chicken grown at 400 times the normal rate and pumped with antibiotics and hormones than consider the alternatives? To a world that thinks nothing of wasting resources, killing off 200 species A DAY and the ecosystems in which they live in order to sustain the mass production of processed meats and substances? To a world that’s too busy Christmas shopping and worrying about health insurance but never connects the dots between these things? To a world that thinks a cancer vaccine can be created to cure cancer, or that diseases are simply a question of genetics? What you say to such a world is, WAKE UP!

I tell you, I’m just not into being polite anymore. In the dire game of survival on this planet, the sleeping masses stand in the way of life, like rogue bacteria. We are not islands. We are one organism intermingling on the same planet. We should do all we can to live cleanly as individuals, but we still have to reside among the combined emissions of the entire population and the biochemical makeup of the earth. We can fast on green juices and cleanse our internal organs to the best of our ability, but every cell of our being is still breathing in the compound substance of the entire organism.

If we want change, if we really want to keep life on this planet an option—good life, not deranged life—we have to stop consuming what we’ve been programmed to consume. We must stop destroying the fabric of our bodies and our world. We cannot carry on as if it doesn’t matter, not without dire consequences, which we’re already seeing. And as the planet becomes more and more irritated by the cancer of misguided human consumption on its delicate surface and tries to shake it off, just as the body tries to fight off illness, there will be symptoms! And symptoms on a planetary scale will surely cause mass devastation. With or without our help, the earth will have to fight to regain its balance.

Daniel Quinn writes in Ishmael: “Nonetheless, I tell you with complete confidence that something extraordinary is going to happen in the next two or three decades. The people of our culture are going to figure out how to live sustainably or they are not. And either way it’s certainly going to be extraordinary.” I agree. Either we are going to have a renaissance and give birth to a whole new way of life that we can only begin to conceive of now or we will perish. As he says, either way it will be an extraordinary sequence of events.

Many people believe the Earth was created for humankind, but the fact is, life was here long before the arrival of our species. And even then, the planet thrived for a long time more before civilization came along coating it with cement and poisonous by-products.

As I face the New Year, I am determined to help conceive and execute a new vision. I will never again ask myself, How can I fit in or be accepted in this social structure? I will ask, How can I transform it into something that is unanimously life-supporting? 

So the question becomes, What is the vision? and then How are we going to build it? We can start by determining what’s worth keeping—all the best of human expression, creativity, and understanding. And determine what isn’t—the clearly offensive and destructive practices of humankind. From there we can create a new lifestyle that reflects this vision, even if it means losing some so-called conveniences along the way, like having the exact type of food we want when we want it, or using cheap plastic to manufacture all manner of products and packaging, or having huge homes and driving multiple cars. But first, we must truly believe, deep down, that our well-being, our life-experience, and having reliably healthy bodies and balanced emotions are worth the change!

Who among us, if given the choice between living as a man (or woman) and living for the man, would choose the latter? Yet that’s what the vast majority of us do in our culture. Food is a natural resource that our planet can easily and abundantly provide, yet we have structured our food consumption in such a way that we spend our lives working (mostly in jobs we can barely stand, day after day, decade after decade) to put dead, processed food in our family’s mouths.

I remember I was in the fourth grade when I heard someone say that the troubles of the world and the devastation of the planet would be left for my generation to fix. I thought, Okay, that seems unfair, but at least my generation will be smart enough to do it—we’ll correct what all those silly adults have done! But here we are and things have only gotten exponentially worse. Now the same is being said of my children’s generation.

What happens to us when we get older? The same thing that happens to bright leaders who take positions in government: we get scared. We question our vision, the impulses that once inspired us to act, and kowtow to the norms because the authorities behind them sound so gosh-darned bossy and authoritative! Self-doubt and fear of being wrong, or worse, haunts our true expression! It’s the primal pain of growing up: as children, filled with energy and clarity, we act on creative impulses that naturally conflict with the adult world, and what happens? We get punished!

I confess, I perceive far more than I talk about publicly. There are things I’d like to say that I censor EVERY TIME I COMMUNICATE, unless I’m with a close, like-minded friend whom I can trust. I can’t do it to that degree anymore for the simple reason that I’ve come to understand that silence kills. The more I let my fear keep a lid on what I really think, the more I allow the devastation. It’s like watching a person get abused or just standing by as a thief steals an old lady’s purse!

One thoughtful reader commented that my voice in this blog sounds angry. I agree with the mystic Almine, who explains that anger is the desire to protect. As a living being, it is natural to feel anger when something threatens the health of your world, inside or out. Being a peaceful warrior does not mean being insipid. We can practice equanimity and still hear the inner alarm bell of anger warning that something worth protecting is being threatened. To ignore or repress this siren is folly. We must honor ALL our feelings (see my 11/6/08 blog on anger). The question to ask is:What does this anger show us that we couldn’t see before? 

Friends, we have to start seeing things as they are. We have to stop consuming what we are told to consume, seeing the world as we were taught to see it, accepting things just because they have some element of credibility without looking more closely.

Increased perception is power. We can change the world. We can eradicate the old blueprint that’s destroying everything good in our world and replace it with a much greater vision. We have to believe that this is possible. We have to believe that we are innovative enough to pioneer a new way of life. We don’t need to accept the expectations and limitations imposed upon us—that’s THE BIG LIE talking in order to satisfy the agenda of those who don’t care what happens after they are gone.

There is no easy way forward. We have to start forging the way, step by step:

Step #1: See that our way of life does not work for humans, or for any life forms at all.

Step #2: Recognize that the origins of our suffering come from our way of life.

Step #3: Realize that we do not need to abandon what is good in our world or return to living in caves. We must move forward, not back.

Step #4: Recognize that we are social beings in a culture that undervalues community.

Step #5: Create a new vision for society and innovate where necessary.

So many of us today are isolated; families are scattered; individuals are depressed and lonely. We must build more wholesome, unifying community experiences. Our current approaches to education and employment are colossal failures. These major building blocks of our way of life desperately require a complete redesign—an entirely new vision that is meant for humans, not for herd animals. When children are allowed to blossom more holistically, their natural talents and curiosities turn them into self-directed dynamos, brimming with enthusiasm for learning, leading to fulfilling expressions of their talents.

In this vision of the future, balanced, sovereign individuals will be rich with natural enthusiasm, integrity, and productivity. Clear, well-balanced people want to be creative and spend their time constructively. It’s a natural human desire to envision new things, craft, build, and innovate. Most people are at their happiest when they are engrossed in something creative.

I don’t have all the answers, and I am but one voice among many brothers and sisters in our human family, but I’m confident that, together, we can knit a beautiful new world that honors life in all its miraculous forms. I hope to offer more hopeful visions and practical steps as I play my part, and I hope you will do the same. But for now, I offer these sentiments as logs on the fire of life. I also plan to share my own experiences of culling the non-necessities in my own lifestyle as I undertake to be more conscientious than I’ve ever been before.

Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t like the way things are done or how they are affecting you and the world. Do you remember what happens in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy melts the witch? The monkey soldiers, who seemed so loyal to her before, break out in celebration upon her assassination! People are walking around defending a way of life that doesn’t work because they are so confused by it and what the alternatives might be. Just think how relieved everyone will be to see there’s a way out of their suffering!

It’s time for a renaissance. Let’s pull together and create something extraordinary, for we human beings are far more extraordinary than this culture we cling to!

For further inspiration, here is a poem by William Ernest Henley, titled “Invictus,” which is enjoying the spotlight, thanks to an inspiring new film by the same name—about South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup championship in 1995, and all that it meant to the nation’s blossoming rebirth. I feel that it applies well here. Apparently, Nelson Mandela turned to this poem for support throughout his twenty-seven-year imprisonment on Robben Island.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

—William Ernest Henley

A Tribute to Michael Jackson and Neda Agha-Soltan

What do Michael Jackson and Neda Agha-Soltan, the beautiful young Iranian girl shot through the heart in Tehran earlier this week, have in common? They are mirrors—or what I like to call “perception-givers.” Their lives and deaths reflect to us the tragic effects of our commonly accepted ways of seeing, being, and engaging.

My father, Ben Barrett, was in the music business and recorded a great deal of Michael Jackson’s music—from the early days with the Jackson Five right up to the “Dirty Diana” album (one of the last albums he recorded before his death in 1992). My brother Roman and I spent a lot of time in the studios when our dad was recording; he would even take us with him on the nightshifts. So the two of us spent time with Michael playing video games and consuming “studio snacks” (sugar cubes, Hershey’s Kisses, Melba Toast, and Coffee-mate). Michael was always kind and engaging—never once inappropriate with us, just for the record.


I imagine that just about everyone born prior to 1980 feels an emotional tug in response to the news of Michael’s death. He was, after all, probably the most famous person after Jesus and Elvis. I’m certainly not immune. But what I feel is a tremendous relief for him. I can’t help but feel like Grace released him from the torment of his existence.

For many years, Michael lived with his parents and siblings down the road from us in Encino, California, on a street called Havenhurst just off the main road of Ventura Blvd. (famously referenced in Tom Petty’s hit “Free Fallin’” for you music trivia buffs). When he was a kid, Michael and his brothers would ride their bikes up to our house and visit my dad. Just take a moment to imagine Michael as a ten-year-old—that gorgeous little boy singing “My Cherie Amour”—riding his bike around his neighborhood like any ordinary, innocent kid. He was beautiful and, by anyone’s standards, uncommonly talented.

His father, as it is famously documented by his sister Latoya’s memoirs, was a hideous character. He was dominating, violent, and abusive. Young Michael’s truth was usurped by his father’s soul-annihilating abuse. From his father’s behavior and words came the stories and lies (reinforced by those who neither challenged them nor taught Michael to challenge them) that would imprison Michael for the rest of his life. To varying degrees, we have all accepted the stories and lies imposed upon us as children.

Yet, despite this, young Michael’s light shone so brightly. The brighter a light shines in the presence of a bully stuck in darkness, the more desperate that bully becomes to snuff out that light for fear of exposure. Many of us, in our defenseless innocence, have been at the mercy of such abuse. (Of course, these bullies, who have likely been abused themselves, need love more than most. But that is a separate issue.)

Young Michael was natural, innocent, exploding with creativity, and in enough possession of his own soul power to radiate his personal essence—making him and his music positively irresistible. Let’s all take a moment and acknowledge that what he expressed in 1970 in his recordings of “ABC” and “The Love You Save” was his true, irrepressible essence—inspiring, enchanting, and downright magical! That was the real Michael. That was before the world of UNTRUTH had at him. This, I believe, is what his spirit and soul are returning to as he sheds the cage of his physical body and the false stories it absorbed over the course of his life on earth.

Michael and Neda (whose name means “voice” in Farsi) are two innocent, pure souls who demonstrated the lies of our world and what we communally deem acceptable. The painful unfolding of Michael’s public life and the tragic, rapid-fire death of Neda in Iran have showed us the EFFECTS of the CAUSES supported by such a world. What happened to Michael and Neda could happen to any innocent, and indeed does—every second of every day. Dramatic displays of suffering and wasted life can sometimes jolt humans out of our programmed, blinkered ways of seeing so that we can begin to discern the truth. But then most of us get distracted again and fall back into our old ways.

To varying degrees, we are all PERCEPTION-GIVERS: those who reflect through personal experience the truths and untruths of our humanity. We must also pay attention and be PERCEPTION-GETTERS. This is the way of the Peaceful Warrior, who does not draw a machine gun or send out a drone against injustice. The Peaceful Warrior knows there is more power in simply holding a mental posture of attentiveness and knows exactly what to watch for. An effective Peaceful Warrior is fluent in the language of Life—able to discern between that which is life-generating and that which is life-deteriorating—and from there is able to make swift life-generating choices.

How perceptive are you? How adept a Peaceful Warrior? How many of the lies, stories, and life-deteriorating but commonly accepted ideas can you see though? What do you do with what you see? Do you passively pray that the world will change or do you change yourself based on what you discover?

Our world can change only if individuals truly perceive and understand the EFFECTS of every CAUSE, and can discern between life and death. How the term “life” is misused! That which is truly living is harmonious and beautiful. Can we stop going around saying “Well, that’s life!” when something undesirable happens? It would be more accurate to say, “Well, that’s death!”

If Michael was taking substances to ease his inner pain and these substances played a role in his passing, this would bear closer examination. Whether it’s pharmaceutical or recreational drugs, alcohol, overeating, or other perverse forms of consumption like excessive shopping and sex addiction, these numbing behaviors indicate a world of PAIN and UNTRUTH. We must acknowledge that the personal and communal pain is real, neither a minor blip on the screen nor an acceptable part of normal life. Perception-getters know that pain is the alarm bell sounding off against the error of life-destroying causes and actions. Furthermore, error begets error, growing exponentially and multiplying human pain.

Instead of trading one numbing behavior for another—say, drinking for smoking, or smoking for overeating, we must determine what is motivating this behavior. The fact is, like Michael, many people don’t want see the truth and go through the shedding process. But for those of us who do, perception can lead to freedom.

To get really personal, for the first time in a long time I was so overcome with emotion today that I just wept. I didn’t resist the urge; I was grateful no one around to say, “Please don’t cry.” It felt so good to shed my tears. The flood of tears came through me like a summer storm after a long, hot day—it drenched my face, neck and T-shirt. I was not lost in the emotion. Rather, I was able to observe it. I was delighted that what I was feeling (and for whatever length of time I had been holding onto it) was finding a release—an exit from my body.

As I cried, all I could think of were the lies and the suffering those lies were causing. I wept for the beautiful boy, Michael, whose experience is a mirror for humanity. I wept in joy for all of our journeys, for despite how daunting it can be to truly perceive, it is a gift. It enables us to shed our old skins of untruth and renew ourselves. I wept for the gorgeous, young Neda and thanked her for her sacrifice, which has opened our eyes in invaluable ways.

One of my favorite songs is “The Nightshift” by the Commodores. It reminds me of my dad making music-magic in the studios on the nightshift—when most of the biggest R&B hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s were recorded. The Commodores recorded this song as a tribute to two of their friends who both passed in 1984: one was the legendary perception-giver, Marvin Gaye; and the other, the great Jackie Wilson.

I’ve posted the lyrics below as a tribute to Michael’s legacy and the mirror he offered mankind. I suppose this gives new meaning to his 1988 hit, “Man in the Mirror.” His fifty years on this planet were not easy for him. This is for you, Michael, may your pain not be in vain, and may your harmonies bring about greater harmony here on earth.

The “Nightshift” by The Commodores 

Marvin, he was a friend of mine
And he could sing a song
His heart in every line.
Marvin sang of the joy and pain
He opened up our minds
And I still can hear him say:
Talk to me
So you can see
What’s goin’ on.
Say you will sing your songs
Forever more
ever more
ever more.
Gonna be some sweet sounds comin’ down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singin’ proud
Oh, I bet you pull a crowd.
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right on the nightshift.
You found another home
I know you’re not alone on the nightshift.
You found another home
I know you’re not alone on the nightshift.
Jackie, hey what you’re doin’ now? It seems like yesterday
When we were workin’ out.
Jackie, you set the world on fire
You came and gifted us
Your love, it lifted us higher and higher.
Keep it up and we’ll be there at your side.
Say you will sing your songs forever more
ever more
ever more.
Gonna be some sweet sounds comin’ down on the nightshift… 

Aw—just download it and have a listen. It’s one of the greats!