Falling For Truth - Howdie Mickoski
Interview by Iain McNay
Iain: Hello and welcome again to Conscious TV. My guest today Is Howdie Mickoski. Hi Howdie
Howdie: Hi Iain
Iain: Howdie is joining us from Norway. Owing to the situation in the world at the moment, we’re experimenting with doing some online interviews. We’re trying to make them as best quality as we can, bear with us while we experiment with it. We’re going to start with showing Howdie’s book (held to camera) ‘Falling for Truth’ which he sent me a copy of, which I enjoyed. There’s a lot in here, it’s quite an intense book at times. Howdie is part of ‘TAT’ group. We’re had several guests from Tat on Conscious TV, Sean Nevins, Ted Hughes, Art Tickner, Bob Ferguson, Bart Marshall so, they’ve always been good interviews. We’ve had nice connections with the people so, we’ve got a good track record so far.
Howdie: So, now’s there’s pressure on me
Iain: Well there’s a lot of pressure on you (laughing). I was going to start with at the start of your book there’s a poem. I’m going to read the poem which I thought was a good start to the book. It goes like this.
So, you want to wake up, and go somewhere to do it
But there is nowhere to go, no place to walk to
No path will get you there, realisation is where you are right now.
It is here, not there.
No paths, no walking , no guides
When you truly know the answer
You will be awake
Iain: You’re awake now, aren’t you?
Howdie: ‘Awake ish’ I guess, it comes and goes. That which you read there was written may be six months after the experience that we’ll get to and it was a very clear period. I had about a year of extreme clarity and then after the clarity came a lot of difficulty and a lot of challenge. It’s all part of the package. A lot of this is presented only on the happy side, the peaceful side and there’s just as much on the difficult, challenging side that actually balances it all out. It’s a bit of both.
Iain: Yeah, well let’s work through your story, your history and then we can come onto what actually happened, which gave you the experience and talk about how that’s been handled by you. One thing that intrigued me was, you were telling me on the phone that you were a professional comedian for thirteen years. That’s wonderful because many people say they are comedians but not many can make a living out of it
Howdie: The challenge usually is the person who is the funniest in the room is not the funniest on stage. Because it is a very distinct environment you have to have a way of turning what’s funny to your group of friends into what’s funny to a group of people who don’t know you. That’s the great switch and the reason not many people can do it. Most people are much funnier than I was, much more brilliant than I was, but they couldn’t translate it onto stages easily.
Iain: Was it mainly spontaneous your humour or did you rehearse it pretty tightly first?
Howdie: I became a corporate comedian, after three or four years I became someone who did banquets, business parties and functions and Christmas parties. So, you were in a bit of a box as to what you could do and couldn’t do. It became a bit uncreative that’s why I stopped doing it after a while. But I did some comedy stand up, impersonations so, I did 20 or 30 mins of various impressions and would do some improv at the end of the show to bring people from the audience. When people know each other it’s very funny when they come up on stage and do something. That was the hour.
Iain: I remember going to an evening with John Cleese many years ago. Of course, John Cleese is famous throughout the world through Faulty Towers. He was saying that everything in Faulty Towers was completely rehearsed, there was nothing spontaneous in it which I thought was a bit sad really as it’s wonderful, but you realise that it’s very calculated.
Howdie: Even Seinfeld had mentioned everything was so scripted In Seinfeld that if somebody said of, instead of and they would stop it and do it again. The way things were written was exactly they way they wanted it presented.
Iain: Yes, well I guess it’s a science, humour is a science like many things, that’s what works. Anyway, your spiritual journey started in 1994 when you were watching the TV news and you got a real shock didn’t you?
Howdie: Yeah. I had a difficult life; I don’t want to say my life… I’ve met people with very horrible lives so, I don’t want to compare my upbringing to theirs. There was a lot of challenge, my father was not a good person. I had all my money stolen in my last year of university and I had all of these really difficult challenges through my family life. Just as I was getting through university, I got a phone call that I’d better be prepared for the news coming up at six o’clock as my ex- girlfriend had just got murdered. What was shocking about it for me, why that I can classify that as the beginning of a spiritual journey. She was doing everything perfectly in her life. The script of life that your supposed to have, how you succeed, she had followed that as perfectly as you could be and now, she was twenty-four and dead. Something clicked that said maybe the story of how you’re supposed to live isn’t right and it began a really deep combination of denial and running away from it and also a combination of spiralling inward. The first part of spiralling inward is you start questioning why do I believe what I believe?
Iain: That’s something we all have to face if we start looking, why do we believe what we believe?
Howdie: Why do we believe what we believe and why and getting to the thing you read at the beginning, why do we want to get somewhere else? A lot of what standard spirituality is, is how you don’t feel good here. You’re unhappy, you’re suffering, you have trauma and there’s this wished for place somewhere else where if you can just get to, everything will be ok. So, the spiritual life is generally spent chasing this carrot of can I eventually get somewhere else as opposed to it really actually starts when you’re really willing to stop doing that and see what you’re really trying to run away from. What is actually going on within you and has been going on within you that makes you want to be somewhere else? That’s where it starts because now, we’re starting to be honest with we’re we really are.
Iain: Although that process started with you then, you told me escape to Australia for a time partly because of the trauma of what had happened to your ex-girlfriend and partly because of what was happening with you too
Howdie: It was a combination of all these things that had happened in my life, I had this turmoil through my family life. I haven’t spoken to my father in thirty years because of it and then Joan gets murdered and I was just very confused at that time. There was really no help, there were no books, I didn’t trust counselling so, the easiest thing was I’ll just go to Australia for two years. Of course, the problems followed me, you didn’t escape them. I’d changed locations but the problems stayed with me.
Iain: We can mention it because it’s in the book, your father actually went to jail so, that’s pretty serious stuff
Iain: And it’s partly because he stole money from you, I think wasn’t it ?
Howdie: From a lot of people
Iain: You’re dealing with heavy duty stuff there
Howdie: It was heavy duty at the time that it happened too. At different times in a person’s life everything will have a different impact. For me this was happening right as university was going to end, just about to finish and get a degree. It’s just when you’re beginning to move from young adulthood into adulthood. You’re starting to find out where you fit in, how you ground, how you fit into the world and that gets pulled from you. You don’t know where to put your feet down for quite a long time because of that. If that happens to someone when there forty, it’s very different to when it happens at that stage, I think. Like everything that happens in your life the timing of it is also as important as what has just happened.
Iain: Then a short time after that, two or three years after that you saw again on TV something that impacted you.
Howdie: I was really spiralling, not in a good way, spiralling down, getting really depressed with my life. I noticed I was becoming more and more manipulative with people, more and more mean. I was drinking far more than I ever needed to and actually thought about killing myself. I thought this would be the way to get out of it all, but I couldn’t think of a way of doing that would not be messy. Somebody was going to have to clean this up , I didn’t want that. It was on my birthday in 1997, I turned on the television set and there was a documentary on pyramid building. Even though I’m a historian, I’d gone through a university degree as a historian, I was never really interested in ancient history. Something about the programme was like a laser beam to my head that said you are supposed to understand the real secrets of ancient Egypt. It was like the rest of my life stopped and this was the only thing that had any meaning and purpose. I spent ten years trying to do just that.
Iain: How was that? Ten years is a long time to study something, and I think at one point you went to Egypt and it also opened other doors didn’t it?
Howdie: What happened right away was I got two lucky breaks. The first lucky break was I started reading some books by people like John Anthony West an alternative archaeologist. It didn’t take much time to realise that the standard story was just not true of ramps and copper tools. It doesn’t match the actual real experience that you see there. So, I was able to turn quickly into something that was important but was became more important that became the spiritual journey was I wanted to think like an ancient Egyptian. I wanted to try and see the ancient world through their eyes. I couldn’t do that through modern eyes. How could I think like someone in the ancient world? That began my reasoning for going to try and meet native medicine men and Asian teachers. I was trying to… can what they are teaching me, going to show me, put me in the mindset of someone the thousand years ago.
Iain: This is something that has always fascinated me because we always try and understand which can go into judgment, it can go into a learning, it can go all kinds of different ways. Someone else whether it’s a long time ago or even now, how they got to where they are in their thinking and their achievements and everything else, is different from how we got to where we are. Of course, with the ancients there’s this tendency to try and work out how did the pyramids get built and all kind of theories round it but as you discovered, we can’t actually know what their thinking was like.
Howdie: Exactly, although I can say I began to get a little bit closer the more time I spent at the actual sites. The more time I spent in Mexico, the more time I spent in Egypt, I still spend a lot of time at stone circles this was part of the world. Scandinavia has hundreds of stone circles that nobody knows about. What makes them so fascinating to me is the real ancient sites, the most ancient of sites are still connected to a time I feel when there was no egoic parasite. When humans on the planet lived without an egoic mind of any kind, the box of the mind wasn’t there. So, when I’m at these sites even though it’s not complete I still feel as though I touch that place. I actually touch this time, ten thousand years ago when everything was completely different here. To me that’s the greatest beauty of being at these places. I don’t have to do anything. I just have to sit there, and you touch this place.
Iain: When you say you touch this place what happens to you tangibly then?
Howdie: The very things people would try to describe by how they mediate or how do mind practices, the mind just stops on its own, I don’t have to do anything. It literally just stops, and then very strange things can then start to happen. I’ll share some with you since that’s what we’re doing. One example of it was on one of my trips to Egypt , and I would go for three or four months at a time, I would spend days in the same place. I’d been at the same temple in Karnak for a number of days in a row. I was sitting quietly in this darkened room. Nobody knew I was there, I was alone, but there was enough light that I could see the reliefs on the wall, the hieroglyphs and reliefs. After about forty minutes everything just got still, unbelievably still and the wall changed, all of the hieroglyphs changed, the reliefs changed. I was looking at a different wall and I realised they’ve actually built and put their stuff together in multiple dimensions. They actually have different holographic layers if you can what I’m calling touching that place, if you can be there in such a state long enough, you can hit the next holographic plate. That was pretty shocking to realise I’m looking at the same wall every day for eight days, but I don’t know how many walls there are actually there. Again, there was this, I think I know something. I’ve been doing all of this study, I’ve been doing all of this research, I think I’m pretty smart, I don’t know jack shit compared to these people. These people, whoever they were that were building this stuff, using this stuff, are beyond anything I can possibly comprehend.
Iain: When you say they didn’t have an egoic structure that may have been, I’ve no idea, it could possibly be the case for people who are simpler and the people just doing the building work but surely the leaders must have had an egoic structure to lead.
Howdie: when I say egoic, I’m using that word to mean a mind that is foreign.
Iain: Did you say foreign?
Howdie: Yes. I’ve come to from my time with Mr Park and some other teachers whom I’m sure we’ll talk about; I came to see the mind that humans normally use is not natural. It’s a foreign, you could almost call it a parasite. The Gnostics in their books called it a virus. This mind that we use daily is not the normal human mind there is one much deeper, but we rarely ever touch it. It’s this place of clarity and easy understanding. So, when I say without an egoic mind, I would say there still is a mind but it’s the same mind, that you can say anyone, any natural creature has that functions the way it needs to function here. This secondary overlay, which is basically just an energy stealing device, I don’t think was there. I can’t prove it wasn’t there, the feeling is that it wasn’t. There was a time when the mind we use daily didn’t exist.
Iain: When you realised that did that affect how you were?
Howdie: Tremendously because it started me asking, what is it? On a really deep level, what is this thing I’m calling my mind? What is this thing I’m calling my thoughts? What is everything I use daily and how can I test it? How can I actually get an answer to what it does and not do? Through a lot if the native Indian teachers that I met, I was lucky enough to meet several native medicine men and spend time on the reserve with them. Practices and this they were doing that they demanded I do was all designed to test my mind, question my mind, attack the mind actually not to stop it, not to make it quiet, to see what would happen if you blew it up. What would happen if the mind actually exploded for a while? Not just what would happen to me but what would happen to reality? That was when I found out reality isn’t so real.
Iain: Ok, there’s a lot you’re covering here. You mentioned Mr Park who was influential for you, he was a Korean teacher you met. You told me on the phone that you did qi gong at that time for may be twelve , fifteen hours a day
Howdie: I was doing twelve to fifteen hours of practice. Qi gong was one of the things I’d learned from a gentleman from Beijing who was a doctor in Edmonton at the time… that would be maybe two hours a day. Then there would be two hours a day of walking. There may be an hour a day of gazing. I was doing the practice of recapitulation, the life review. Some of the things were seemingly simple but they were…sitting still in nature for an hour only looking one metre around you. It’s amazing what’s going on in our tiny little local environment that we’re not aware of. So, all of these kind of practices… I did some things that were crazy, but they eventually started breaking things down. Mr Park, did I tell how I met him in the book? I don’t think I said how I met him.
Iain: Was he introduced by someone called Omni?
Iain: You did mention…
Howdie: But I don’t think I told the story, maybe I did
Iain: Tell the story
Howdie: This was an African gentleman I met who was outstanding in getting me to question how smart I thought I was. He told me about this Korean monk who had now living in Canada, and that I should really go meet him. I don’t want to meet some old man, I’m busy. Finally, he phoned me one day and said Mr Park needs to get his visa redone, he needs passport photos. I’m sorry I’m busy could I take him, take Mr Park around town. Sure, I can walk him around. He doesn’t speak much English and we moved around from place to place and waited so my friend Omni would pick us up. As I was putting Mr Park into the car, we hadn’t spoken much all day, a little yes and no, he turned and looked at me and says, “your darkness, all left side, darkness, you come see me tomorrow”. He gets in the car. Omni said, “what did he say?” I told him, and Omni said, “you’d better go see him tomorrow”. That began the work with him.
Iain: You also say in the book, one thing leads to another you found. You’d get in a flow; you’d get introduced to somebody else and then you’d meet someone else that fitted. Other times things weren’t in a flow both sides were happening.
Howdie: You can break my spiritual journey up 2005.Before 2005 my life was mostly in a gigantic flow. It was like that as long as I was serious. If I started thinking about myself, started thinking about what I wanted or what I need, the flow would stop. As long as I was focused on, I need to learn, I need to get rid of false because you don’t find truth. You find false and remove it and keep moving. Eventually you might bump into truth. As long as I was doing that, the most interesting people would show up on their own. For me I was also lucky because they were still living everything in a very old way. So, there not giving workshops; not giving satsangs; you don’t pay money to go see them, they just live peacefully, quietly. If you’re serious you track them down, maybe they will talk to you. Maybe. One medicine man I went to meet , the first time, he invited me in. I sat down on his couch, he got me a glass of water and I sat there. He just ignored me for two hours. He didn’t say hello, just did whatever he was doing and finally after two hours said, “ok comeback tomorrow”. He was testing me, could I just sit there and wait? I’m lucky to have had these experiences, touching this time, feeling like I’m touching a time long ago, not the way the modern world is, the way things were done long before we were born.
Iain: I’m just absorbing what you’re saying. It’s true, these times are so frantic, fast, impersonal in many ways. What you were experiencing people doing things on their own terms and seeing if you would meet them in a different place from the normal. That’s a challenge that we have a lot in our lives
Howdie: It’s getting worse
Iain: If we really want to move is to find that place where… it’s not just the stillness; it’s not just the patience; it’s a coming together of a deeper level of us as we really are
Howdie: Yes. I would get asked questions sometimes if we walked in the forest. I might get asked a question like how many crows did we pass on the right side? I don’t know. Seven, why weren’t you paying attention? So, I started to learn, I might get asked questions like this, you better have your awareness open. It’s amazing, once you’re not trying to notice, how many birds are passing, how many birch trees were there, trying to take in what’s around you, not quiet, quiet is the wrong word, not focus on yourself, you bring in a tremendous amount of perception that you don’t even know is brought in, that you can access.
Iain: It might seem a strange question what was drawing you? Did you know what was drawing you at the time? Was it the intrigue or was there a feeling of something much more fundamental going on?
Howdie: In general?
Iain: On this journey. For me what you’re talking about is intriguing but also of course there is a gateway that is gradually opening
Howdie: The underlying intention was always at first how much does my mind and my thoughts create reality? How much are they linked? A large portion of what I was always doing was trying to stay aware of my thoughts, trying to stay aware of what was happening inside and seeing as it changed, did reality change? The answer turned out to be yes and I don’t mean in a minor way. It got scary
Iain: How did it get scary?
Howdie: It got scary because reality stopped behaving like it’s supposed to behave. I started realising I would label… things Carlos Castaneda talked about were the external world is first a word in your mind, that there’s this link between words in your mind and reality. If there’s no words in your mind reality doesn’t function. It got to the point… I remember one day the girl I was dating I said, “oh your sister coming up now, she’s walking up the stairs to the house”. “ What do you mean?”. All of a sudden knock, knock and there she is. She comes back after letting her sister and says how did you know that?” “I could see her walking up the path”. “That’s a wall, there’s no window, how do you know that?” I was looking out and to me there was no wall, it was literally I was looking directly outside. Once I started realising there is no wall, the wall started to reform again in front of me and then the wall was back. You start seeing how connected you are to reality and how reality is held in place by what you believe. It’s often said metaphorically in some way or there’s this generalisation, I learned it is concrete. It is actually concrete; the world is solid because we believe it’s solid.
Iain: How do you hold your humbleness when you discover that and not get carried away to thinking I’m really somebody. This is great food for the ego
Howdie: It can be. I got scared actually. Another example is, I was walking, and I noticed a car was parked too close to the end of a street. The city I lived in, if your car was too close to the end of the street you would get ticketed. You had to be a certain number of feet away. I remember thinking in my mind, it’s too bad this guy, had he just rolled his car back a foot he would be fine. As soon as I said that the car rolled back a foot. Physically moved one foot. Even though I had been reading this stuff, I’d heard about this stuff and I’d seen all sorts of things in sweat lodges, when these things start to happen to you, you don’t know how to handle it. It can get very scary. This may be my third talk in ten years. I started to come out and talk to people like you because there may be other people who are going through what I was going through and am going through now, and challenges, I want them to not feel like they are crazy. Not feel like something is wrong, that there’s something to be afraid of or that they might be having a real deep experience, or a real deep understanding of reality and don’t be afraid of it. See if you can merge into it and use it well. I know of my own case I got scared for quite a while, so I stopped it. I literally turned it off because it was so scary and then reality stayed normal.
Iain: Because it brings responsibility
Howdie: Yes, it brings a tremendous responsibility, and it brings that sense of a little bit of I wonder if anything happens how responsible am I for it? If there’s a fire two streets over, did I somehow cause the fire? Did I walk by the house three days ago and think some thought? Maybe the house is on fire , and now it is. You wind up in the place for a while where you actually need some good guidance because it’s not a bad thing, it’s a powerful thing. This is what the great shamans of history had and took to the deepest of levels for them to , how would we describe it? Manipulate reality, or let’s say if reality is a computer programme , they learned how to get into the programme and alter the code so you could alter the experience. Like you say, that’s a great responsibility because if you are not going to have the best of intentions when you do that, you are going to create problems. Real problems.
Iain: Ok. So, on May 28th, 2005 something quantum happened to you.
Howdie: Fifteen years ago, tomorrow actually. Wow. I’d been going through the journey you’ve bearing hearing up to this point, thinking I know quite a bit. I was out hiking with a friend of mine near a place called Johnston Canyon, Calgary , in the Rocky Mountains. Google it and look it up, it’s a massive waterfall through the canyon. We were up a little further from the waterfall, but I’d never been there before so I didn’t know there was a waterfall. It was a nice river. It was moving quite fast, but we felt good. We got close to it and I slipped and fell in. The water took me at tremendous speed. I did the best I could to try and swim to get out. Just as I got back to the bank where my friend was standing, he had his hand out trying to pull me in, I pulled him in as well. At that moment I knew we’re done, it’s over. I had an incredible acceptance. It was an amazing thought; this is how I’m going to die. Who would have guessed? Who would have thought it would have been like this? It was quite funny actually, it wasn’t scary, it was funny. In the next micro -second all of my thoughts stopped. The ability even to have thought stopped. Everything I’d ever considered thought stopped, then everything instantly after that I’d ever thought of as me. Everything you can classify as personality was gone, it just ended. All that was left I would call is clusters of information. I think in the book I called them clusters of thought but that’s not the right way to describe it. Clusters of information would just bubble up complete. You would see them all, feel them all, then they would dissolve, and the next bubble would come up, and the next bubble would come up. I realised that this is the natural way of being human. It had come because I had accepted that I was going to die and I had no interest in wanting to live, there was no need to continue. This is fine, this is a good way to die actually, this will be different. But my friend was still in the canyon, he was also struggling to get out. My thought came if I don’t get out how is he going to get out? I slammed into a boulder. An under -river boulder hit my leg. I deflected off the boulder, got close to the shore, crawled out and he crawled out. We sat down together for quite a while; we didn’t say anything. We started talking about our experiences and the depth of our experience and we talked for hours about our experiences. We wondered how long were we in the canyon for? How long were we in this river for? We finally realised it had to be one second, two seconds. We’ve just had these two hours of description over a one second real time experience but when it was done, I was dead. The body was still here, it was functioning, I was aware but everything that was me wasn’t there.
Iain: You say in the book, I’m just reading an extract here, ‘it was like a massive data that was placed inside of me found a way out’. It was like the data went. Your personality just left.
Howdie: Yes, that’s another part of the experience in this one second of experience. Once everything I thought of as me left it’s almost like the universe plugged into me and downloaded a massive amount of information. It was like… that’s the way I would describe it an information download from the universe. Almost all the things I think I’d been seeking for in my life in the ancient world, the understanding and the knowledge of history, it all got downloaded into me. If I downloaded a whole bunch of stuff from your computer, it would take you years to find it all, open it, track it. That’s what’s been happening to me since, trying to go through these downloads and figure out, what did I get? What’s actually in here?
Iain: When we talked on the phone the other day you were saying you almost had to wait until a new personality formed
Howdie: For someone who has had this experience whose had a period of what you might call the breaking of your personality, the breaking of the self… one of your recent interviewees Jez Alborough spoke of something similar and how difficult that process can be. If someone has had something similar there is a process that is supposed to happen afterwards. The more you can follow the process, the easier it gets. I didn’t follow the process, it got very difficult but not for the first six to eight months. The first six to eight months was unbelievable clarity, complete clarity. I felt that there was nothing that was not clear.
Iain: When you say clarity , what do you me by that?
Howdie: It means I didn’t have to think about anything to know anything. Whatever I wanted to know it would just be there. Whatever needed to get done I just thought about it and it would happen. It was unbelievably easy but that’s also a false clarity because the best way I can describe it is when you have something like this, to me what I call an awakening is different from a mystical experience, different from union, different from beauty. It’s when you realise you are not who and what you thought you were, when you realise reality is not who and what you thought you were. That leaves you in a very confusing place if you’re honest about it. You need to take time to look into the confusion because what has happened is, that it’s like reality has shone a spotlight on one part of the dream, one part of truth, one part of the absolute. Now because it’s the absolute it’s a complete holographic image. On one level you have seen everything, but you haven’t seen everything with the spotlight. You’ve seen most of it but it’s grey, fuzzy. One part of it you’ve seen perfectly clearly. This becomes the challenge because it feels like you know everything when you can only be confident of the part with the light clearly. It takes time to start to accept that, that there is a process to see more clearly requires further work, requires further effort, further time to be quiet. That’s one side, what you just asked. If you want to start being in the world again you have to rebuild the personality because the old one is gone. The old one, the comedian person, the outgoing person, the very fun person that I used to be, is not here. I can’t access it. I can’t pretend to access it. I’m talking to you now through a new built personality that I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing when I was building it and that’s challenging.
Iain: It sounds very challenging. Just picking some little bits from the notes I made from your book. You also said the first few months after the canyon incident you had no fear. You mentioned Jez who I interviewed fairly recently, he had tremendous fear for a long, long time. He lost his personality and it left him in this fear, but you had a very different experience or interpretation however you call it
Howdie: I guess because it happened through a complete death experience were the body was physically at the point of being ready to die, that was part of the reason. There was nothing that could create any fear whatsoever. That sounds strange but there wasn’t. Even the idea of having a fear didn’t exist which means you can do some stupid things because on one level having no fear sounds great. It is great but on the other side a little bit of fear is helpful to say if I do this, this could be the result. That can cause some problems particularly for some other people so, maybe it’s best I don’t. When you have absolutely no fear, you’ll walk into the fire gladly because there is nothing to be afraid of. If I’d followed the process better at the time I probably could have held that state of no fear much longer, much deeper and used it much more effectively because when you do have nor fear you can take the most powerful risks for other people. To me that’s the greatest way of using no fear. Another person is in trouble, got a problem, they are afraid. Something needs to happen. You can go into the fear for them. That happened for a while.
Iain: You also say in the book the problem of the ego was still there, the ego didn’t completely disappear.
Howdie: No again, that’s one of these great challenges. You think it’s gone; you think you’ve gone past it, but it’s just been badly damaged. Yes, there is a complete process that is meant to happen which includes… there is a reason for zen monasteries. Part of the reason for the monasteries is that if this happens to you can go there for a year or two and just process through this. Process this with people who understand. That was the first issue with the problem I had, I had no one to talk to about it. There were very few books at the time, there were very few anything. All that was written was you are supposed to have fantastic experience, the bugles will blow, the heavens will open, life will be fantastic, and you’ll never have a problem for the rest of your life. That’s not what I’m experiencing at all. As I began to take time through it a lot of others were not experiencing anything like that either. Who is there to help us? It was very hard because I felt very alone in the process. I felt very alone with trying to figure it all out. I didn’t have a great foundation in the world, I wasn’t extremely stable so, I also needed to get back into the world , into reality to bring in money, to eat and do all these things. So, the time needed to be just still and contemplate wasn’t there like it needed to be. So, the ego will reform, the ego will come back. Often it will come back after a spiritual experience, as a spiritual ego. I know something now that everyone else doesn’t. I’ve got to save humanity. I’ve got to fix the world. This great message that has to get out, whatever it is. All of a sudden off they go, and the trap is out.
Iain: I see that now and again with people. They’ve had experience, it’s been very genuine, it’s not anything like the full picture, it’s not properly integrated.
Howdie: Which is fine if we acknowledge that. if we are talking to someone and someone asks you have a spiritual experience, are you totally integrated? No, I’m not. I still have faults. I’m nowhere near perfect and still going to make mistakes but trying the best I can, that changes the interaction with anybody as long as you’re being honest with them.
Iain: It’s interesting. I’m going to skip some of my notes. It’s all very fascinating but maybe I can just jump forward in the book and look at what you call Jacob’s ladder which kind of fits into what we’re talking about here to a large extent. This is a teaching from Richard Rose who you never actually met, but you were very drawn to his teaching and other people from TAT who I’ve interviewed have spent time with Richard Rose. Do you want to talk us through the three stages, the three pyramids because we can then reference what you’re talking about and where you were in that situation?
Howdie: Sure. I came across Richard Rose after this canyon experience and was struck by his incredible honesty and incredible willingness not to say things to be liked but to say things the way he saw them. It was just the most refreshing presentation I had come across, very similar to Mr Park to me. Mr Park was like that. Mr Park could be a loving grandfather or your worst enemy, that’s what it felt like. Within one of Rose’s key teaching is something he called Jacob’s ladder, which was three pyramids placed one on top of each other, which you move through reaching a I guess you would call it a culmination point that moves you to not only complete one level but has moved you into the next level. As I was reading though this material and reading through my own experience. I started seeing that it was also the three stages of the alchemic process – Negredo, Albedo and Rubedo. It’s the three pyramids sitting on the Giza Plateau. When you look into mystical traditions there always this three. I saw how all of these things might be describing the same thing. So, I began the study of what would be the lowest level of the pyramids which is an emotional level, the level of feeling. The second pyramid is the level of mind…
Iain: Richard Rose called it umpire
Howdie: Yeah, he described the top part of the first pyramid as something he called the umpire. If you can work your way through the various emotions and feelings, because the first pyramid is all about, I don’t feel good, I feel bad in some way. How can I feel better? For him there was a culmination point of…I’m trying to paraphrase him…there is a part of the mind that looks after us. There is a natural, almost like the way a bear has a natural instinct, a dog has a natural instinct; a tree has a natural instinct, there is a natural instinct for humans. What’s good for humans? How do we find food? How do we eat? When do we sleep? When do we rest, when do we do anything? He called it an umpire, a judging thing that simply tried to make sure we could stay alive, reproduce, look after those children, before we ourselves died off. For him if you could reach this point and allowed it to function naturally which we don’t seem to do, then a lot of our normal problems, naturally fall away. We are looking for something to guide us, but we already have it inside us, we just don’t use it very often. That would be the first pyramid of work which is getting through how do I feel?
Iain: You also talk about when you are in that first period you tend you have a constant low- grade anxiety which continued no matter how much you seemed to progress, low level anxiety, something unsettled is always there.
Howdie: Unsettled because the search is to feel better and feeling better doesn’t necessarily mean you have aligned to any kind of truth; doesn’t mean you have aligned to any kind of deeper part of self, it just means you feel better. You can think of it as like a labyrinth and to spiral into the centre of the labyrinth is hard work, it’s difficult. Once you get to the centre of it , it’s a very peaceful place the eye of the hurricane. If you’re only focused on the first pyramid, that’s all you want, your goal was to be peaceful; your goal was to be quiet. But that’s not the journey because the journey requires spiralling back out again. You’re not meant to live in the middle of the hurricane, you’re meant to live in freedom. That means you’ve got to come back out, back through the labyrinth, back through the minotaur, back through everything again and that’s moving into the second pyramid. That changes when someone decides I don’t need happiness anymore I need to know what’s true. I need to know at least in their own eye what’s true to me.
Iain: That involves working back through the humanness as I understand it.
Howdie: Yeah, everything that would normally be classified as spiritual work I put in the first pyramid, almost anything that anyone can think of, that to me is first pyramid work. It’s about actually regaining some of your natural human functioning. You were talking earlier how this world has totally taken us away from just being natural. Most spiritual work if you get to the core of it is really designed to get you to be a normal functioning, peaceful, relatively healthy human being. There’s nothing wrong with any of it, it’s important. You can’t take university physics until you’ve taken grade five mathematics. The problem is most of the people teaching grade 5 mathematics. The problem is most spiritual circles present it as if it’s university physics, and it’s not. It’s very fundamental stuff that you need to know, but there I am time when you need to go past it into much deeper material, much deeper things.
Iain: I’m just trying to fit this in because also in the book you talk about the two distinct parts of awakening. That’s in a different chapter where you go, as you just said now into the labyrinth. I’m just reading for my notes here from your book, “you see all the conditioning that has shaped our view of the world and of ourselves. There is peace in the centre and for that reason most people don’t want to leave it. They think they have finished with their quest”. But, as you say “they’ve only gone halfway, they must return, then all the dark stuff has to be revisited. You have to learn how to accept it and use it. We have to understand ourselves in a new way”.
Howdie: Because, and I can only speak from my own experience. After what happened in the canyon, the darkest parts of myself started coming up because once you have left your personality, all of the residue of it, is not gone. It’s still there and it wants to be seen, it wants to be acknowledged. Now there’s no mental structure, there’s no box, there’s no wall holding it away anymore. Now it’s all just going to flood in. All of your old traumas, all of your old memories, all of those old experiences, it’s just going to hit you. We talked about I had this period of no fear, this period of calm but eventually you can’t hold the dam back anymore. All of these parts of yourself that want to be seen and need to be see in order to acknowledge and transform them, or not even transform them, acknowledge them that they are there, they can stay or dissolve as they wish. You need to see and experience them. If the person is only wanting to feel good, this will be rejected. This part of the process will be rejected.
Iain: You see all that as the first part of the pyramid ‘The Umpire’, do you?
Howdie: This would be moving into the second part.
Iain: Moving into the second, ‘The Process Observer’
Howdie: Yes, once you start moving past that and revisiting yourself in a much deeper honest way… in the first pyramid your focus is out there generally, once you go to the next level, it’s all bout what’s going on inside this thing (pointing to himself). I don’t mean this thing being a body, because that’s one of the first traps, this belief that there is a me inside this body thing, not me outside the body. Once you start seeing going inside is not going inside a body, it’s going inside this thing called self, wow does that change everything. That changes the whole game. That’s what I feel a lot of that work is about. It can be a bit more mental because it’s having to dig through thoughts and memories, they do have an emotional, a feeling element, a lot of thought pieces that are holding together.
Iain: You also talk about it being a physical strain, causing a lot of insomnia, so it’s taking it out of you. You need to maintain this physical fitness as much as you can.
Howdie: Yes, as you’re really start going deeper into things, in my case I’ve gone through some tremendous illness. I went through a four-year illness. The illness was so strange that I saw probably twenty different medical practitioners. From regular doctors, to acupuncturists, to shaman, to energy healers, to herbalists. Everyone had a different answer, different suggestion, different diagnosis. I tried them all, none of them worked, none of them changed anything. Then one day, it just stopped all by itself. Obviously, it must have stopped because I had completed something, looked at something enough. I had made some sort of inner shift, but I can’t tell you now, what the inner shift may have been or may not have been but that’s when it stopped. It started because something was out of alignment and that out of alignment is going to become much worse when you can’t hide from it anymore. All you have to do is end the misalignment, come back into alignment. It was difficult. Adyashanti talks about something similar. He has similar experiences in his awakening, he was constantly sick over and over again for years. That actually helped, reading something from someone else, in his books as I could relate it to what I was gong through. Yes, thank you, somebody is helping here, this is great.
Iain: Yes, absolutely. Then pyramid three, I just want to try and fit in this idea which I thought was very interesting, the Jacob’s ladder idea. So, pyramid three, Richard Rose called it awareness, talk us through that, how you see that.
Howdie: If you take it in alchemic terms which might be easier for the average person to understand, in the lower pyramid you in the blackness, Negredo, pain the suffering and the difficulty. In the second pyramid you’re in Albedo, the whiteness, the cleansing of all that darkness but just because the darkness is cleansed, you still don’t have awareness. You still don’t have complete presence and so you call the third pyramid work, which is not necessarily work. You can’t give anyone practices, things to do. They have to figure it out for themselves, the have to feel their way into it. It’s about obtaining complete awareness would be the best way of describing it, total presence, understanding beyond the mind. The end of the second pyramid you might call it absolute mind, the origin of thinking, the origin of thoughts, the origin of experience, the origin of things. The third pyramid is going in beyond that. The origin of all things.
Iain: You say, “you must become formless to pass through. You reach here less by desire, something unknown pushes us through.”
Howdie: I think desire, will and work can take you potentially to the end of the second pyramid. There are no guarantees of anything. One of Rose’s famous statements was “spiritual enlightenment is an accident. We do work to make ourselves accident prone”. In the third pyramid something seems to pull you there. There is a longing for, a deep wish, there is a deep remembering of something you feel or recall, a place of home that you are still looking for. A place of home that is not in this world and that I think is the draw to this third pyramid. This place of awareness. This memory of something far beyond anything that in this reality can satisfy.
Iain: So, how’s your life these days having been through… you’ve had really different phases to your life. You’ve had been an ordinary person type phase. You had your great exploration learning all these things about the Egyptians. You had the great accident as Richard Rose would call it. Then you had the learning of the integration of the great accident. So, where abouts are you these days?
Howdie: It still can be quite challenging because so much of the process was not done well at the beginning, you might say at times I get myself stuck in a bit of limbo where I’m not fully in the world but I’m not fully in the presence at times. At times, feeling like you’re wading through a pool of molasses, at other times you can feel very clear. But I still get drawn… there is a painting behind me I don’t know if it can be properly seen.
Iain: It looks like a woman is leaning forward…
Howdie: I’ll have to tilt my camera (shows picture). It’s one of the first pieces of renaissance artwork in Florence done in the Monastery of St Marco. It’s ‘The Annunciation” the famous Christian moment of the holy spirit impregnating the virgin. What I see it comes to symbolise is the spark of something divine into you that causes deep seeking. When we talked about the pyramid programme, I saw on television twenty-five years ago, the painting behind me was that experience. I wasn’t asking for it, I wasn’t looking for it, I wasn’t trying. I was standing in the middle of the road and the bus ran me over, boom. That’s kind of what that symbolises, and so you ask me what’s happening now, that happening a lot. There’s a lot at times of this divine boom, you need to look into this. You need to study that, it’s how I wrote the book after the book you have in your hand, the book on history in the 1850’s, ‘The world’s Expositions’ which I wrote because of after being in Florence an experience told me all of our history is a lie. It’s not even a minor lie, it’s a major lie. Things I’m noticing sort of pull me into subjects, and say you need to put your time here. I say why? I don’t get an answer but as I do it, I get tremendous energy from doing it and a tremendous joy from doing it even though I don’t know how well it received or not.
Iain: I don’t know the exact quote but it’s somewhere I pulled out of the book which I think Richard Rose says “you climb the mountain get to the top, then you keep climbing. There’s just no end.”
Howdie: There’s no end because the minute we think we’ve finished, the minute the ego has you. The minute the ego’s got you again, you believe you are perfect as opposed to why don’t you just keep seeing what more you can learn. Maybe the only thing I think I’ve learned in all of my life in all of the stuff we’ve talked about the only thing I’ve learned is the key moment of life is going to be the moment of our death. That is going to be the greatest transformative doorway that we will experience or not experience however you want to call it. Our how life is preparing ourselves for that moment. How much presence will you take into the moment of death? How much awareness will you take into the moment of death? How much questioning will you bring into it? Will you trust instantly, or will you doubt? Will you believe or will you not believe? Will you question or will you not question? So, I see everything is leading for that great opportunity.
Iain: A great opportunity
Howdie: A great opportunity
Iain: That’s not how society sees it.
Howdie: No, and that’s the current crisis will call it, we’re under now has its undertones because of a great fear, and the great fear is death.
Iain: Yes absolutely
Howdie: The great fear of everything is what happens if I die tomorrow, or next week, or next month. I don’t get to finish… they don’t even know why they are afraid. Having lived through what I’ve lived through now I know it’s not a great thing at all. It’s actually if you let go, it’s unbelievably transformative. It might be painful; it might be scary but eventually it will be a great opportunity.
Iain: Howdie, I think that is a great place to finish.
Iain: A great opportunity. I’m going to show your book again, the full title ‘Falling for Truth, A spiritual death and Awakening’.
Howdie: thank you for having me, I appreciate it and I appreciate the interviews you’re doing with people. You’re providing a lot of various people to be heard and give people a chance to make some decisions about what they want to do and how they want to live their life.
Iain: And of course, the real motivation is I enjoy doing it and I learn something as well. It’s not as if it’s one way but I appreciate you saying that. So, Howdie we maybe will meet again in person, that would be very nice if you come to London once the current drama has dissipated to some extent.
Howdie: I look forward to it, that would be great.
Iain: Thank you everyone for watching Conscious TV and I hope we see you again soon. Goodbye.
Howdie: As I was thinking over a bit the topics covered in the conversation we just had with Iain, there was one important element I failed to mention when we were talking about the mind. We were talking about how I mentioned it was foreign. I think it’s a very important thing that spiritual seekers understand that what we classify as our mind is something that is not only creating reality, not just creating our experience, t’s being manipulated. It’s being hypnotised, that’s the best word we can use. The extra reality and forces in the extra reality are hypnotising the mind. So, what you’re experiencing, what you think you’re experiencing, how we think we’re experiencing it is not anywhere close to what is actually going on. This manipulation is pretty constant in every area of our life. It’s why it requires so much work to examine the mind, to study the mind, to study what we think we believe because so much of it is not… I don’t want to say it’s not truthful, that wouldn’t be the right word. It’s an external projection designed to hook us into the dream, hook us into this reality. I thought I should share that with you as anther thing and to really contemplate about how hypnotised I am to what’s going on around me. How much of a robot or a zombie am I? How much is the choices I make my own choice or a programmed choice from years ago or one minute ago? Derren Brown from the UK is a master of magic and hypnosis. He can get people to do things in an extremely fast manner, things they didn’t even know they just did. That’s happening to us on a continuous scale moment by moment throughout our lives. A big part of the spiritual journey is awakening on one level what that means is removing the external programming, removing the ability to be hypnotised, allowing your inner being to open completely to see reality as it is, not as you’re programmed to see it. I just wanted to share that with you.
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