Most people feel the possibility of fear and doubt within an event or situation and believe it is them fearing and doubting. By doing so, they take the fear and doubt onto themselves, making the fear and doubt their own. This transforms, transmutes, the event or situation from just life into a terrible monster of which the person is a victim. Left unchecked, this fear or doubt will leak into the person’s whole personal reality, making parts of herself victims and other parts monsters. But this is not the end of it. Other people become monsters or victims as fear and doubt leaks out from the personal reality into the general reality of the cultural frame. By taking on fear and doubt, by making it her own, the person is taking on the responsibility of the universal doubt and fear. This is because she becomes a transmitter of doubt and fear. She amplifies the doubt and fear in the world. The more she believes doubt and fear is himself, the louder and the wider the broadcast.
Fortunately, this entire process is also true when a person operates from, sees, chooses, and uses the positive, the strength, the power, the freedom in a situation or an event. The student should understand that every situation in life has the potential of both fear and strength, of both doubt and power, of both desire and freedom. This background of potential is always there within life. The choice is always there. In the western modern culture, doubt, fear, and desire are actively promoted because victims are easier to control and manipulate than free humans.
For this reason we will always feel doubt, fear, and desire around us in this society. But we are not responsible for doubt, fear, desire unless we choose to take them on as our own, as us. But once we choose to take these negatives on as our own, to think and act upon them, then we are taking on the guilty responsibility for them not only in our lives, but in the world in general.
But if we brush past the fears, the doubts, and the desires to lustfully take on life as our own, make it our own with all of its strength, power, and freedom, then we assume the responsibility (in all of the senses of that word) for life, strength, power, and freedom. We do this not only for ourselves, but for everyone. The more life, freedom, strength, and power is chosen, the more available these are for everyone.
This has been called the way of the warrior. It is the way of the shaman. But it is also the way of living happily. We have to always push past the ever-present doubt and fear to lustfully join with life, lustfully work with life, working with everything life gives us, including what would look to victims as hardships and sufferings. By doing this, we crack over time the shell of “hardships”, finding these life experiences transformed into deep living blessings.
Do to others as you would want to be done to you. Treat people as yourself. Love your neighbor, your enemy, others as yourself. You will reap what you sow. The law of karma. These are all nice abstractions with the loopholes of individualistic choice and time built into them. That is, they secretly imply that there is a choice about seeing the other as separate from yourself, from your personal body…imply that there is a karmic credit card on which you can in effect charge “wrong” action to be paid, with a certain rate of interest, in either good works or suffering at a later date. This creates a judging, an evaluating, a choosing, a questioning whether a “wrong” action is worth the charge on the credit card, how it affects your credit rating. Worst yet, it, like the bank’s Mastercard, tends to hide the real costs of the “wrong” actions, hiding it within the easy payment plan, hiding the wide-ranging resulting effects of the “wrong” actions.
“Wrong” actions are different both from mistakes and from “bad” action in a morality system. Mistakes are learning tools within life’s evolution. Mistakes are vital, unavoidable, and vulnerable because true mistakes are the result of creative risk-taking. A “mistake” that is repeated over and over is not a mistake at all, but a “wrong” action. A wrong action is an action which harms, does not promote life-affirmations…it is in fact a life-denial, broadcasting life-denials. Morality is an itemized list from the moral visa card…a list of all the possible sins and the form of payment required for each sin. But nowhere on this list is there any mention of the real results, both personal and dynamic, of the so-called sin.
This moral/karmic easy payment plan is one of the main means by which the life-denying power-combine abstracts us out of the direct involving experience of life. It puts the results outside of the personal present into an impersonal future. It puts the “payment” result of a sin outside of the personal present into both an impersonal past and impersonal future…that is, in a moral system of payment. You are paying for past sins in the future. This is fragmenting the reality of experience. A credit card makes it much harder to experience the reality of buying something because it fragments the exchange, the relationship, between two people. There is no exchange of what/who you are in the present. So it is very much harder to feel, experience, the real worth or result of the buying experience. It is much harder to feel, experience who you really are. So you spend more than you would if it had been a physical exchange, a physical relationship, between you and another person. Moreover, the medium of the exchange, money, has been abstracted into unreality, put outside the personal reality. This makes spending casually a matter of course. Creating this casualness is a main reason for credit cards, poker chips, and sins.
But the abstraction does not end at the purchase experience. Without the context of the relationship of exchange, the actual experience of the result of the exchange…for example, the concert which the ticket is for…takes on an unreality to it. Moreover, when it comes time to pay, the experience of the concert has long ago happened, faded into the past. The payment is no longer a personal physical involvement in the actual experience of the concert. The payment is now an involvement with the abstraction, the power system, of the credit card. This involvement with the abstraction is the concept of duty, “should” duty. Because the experience of the concert has been long ago made over into an abstraction before payment time, it is difficult to feel the real effect of the concert. So you dutifully, casually pay the credit card bill.
This basic credit card dynamic is at the root of all moral systems. All moral systems are systems of power, of abstraction, of fragmentation. A moral system contains a framework of shoulds, should nots, taboos. This moral framework is substituted for the direct experience of life. The reasons for the shoulds, should nots, and taboos are not revealed or explained. Love thy neighbor. Thou shall not kill. But there is not a real sense of why. This is true of the modern anti-moral systems of “going with the flow” and “do your own thing”…these anti-moral systems are just moral systems dressed up in mirrors. The should/taboo framework is a con for power.
A saint takes on a moral system so completely that he becomes the social system. Living within a moral framework as a saint does limits the personal ability to shape reality, hence transferring this ability in the form of power to the abstract social structure.
But a life of a saint is not the real goal of any moral system. If everybody lived as saints, the power that was thus generated would not be anywhere near enough to keep an abstract structure in existence. This is why real saints are always in a very tiny minority or a false myth. Saints are decoy models projected in front of people by the abstract power structure.
The real goal of any moral system is personal failure. This type of failure is different from the failure within evolution or creativity. It is the failure of a victim or a loser. A moral system is set up to be almost impossible, if not in fact impossible, for humans to live within. At the heart of the con of morality is to convince the people that they should do what they are not empowered to do. Convince them by creating a system of rewards and punishments which is based on the fragmentation of time into past and future. Once a person is plugged into this reward/punishment system, he stops shaping his actions by the concrete experience of the results, both linear and nonlinear, of his actions. Instead, he starts focusing on the rewards and punishments within the moral system…starts focusing on the past and/or future…starts doing/not doing based on the promised reward/punishment. This abstracts the person out of the direct present experience of his life action and its resulting effects. This abstraction is the root cause of personal casualness. Once he is thus abstracted out of the direct experience, he can be sold whatever prepackaged pictures of reality that the abstract power structures issue, will pay whatever price for forgiveness, protection, for a piece of power (no matter how small). In this way, the person is convinced by the power structure that he needs it, needs to belong to it, to conform to its prepackaged deck of pictures of reality.
Our modern social world is made up of the combine of moral systems. Each power system…be it political, religious, social, economical, or sexual…issues its own deck of reality pictures and moral credit cards. This moral combine includes power systems that we do not usually think of as moral systems. What I am thinking of are the systems of romance, glamour, and education. A moral system is a system that abstracts reality into mental pictures into the past/future.
Love others as yourself. Why? If you do, you will be rewarded sometime in the future. If you do, you will be paying back for something bad you did sometime in the past…or, for that matter, for something bad you will do in the future. This is the logic of morals. It is individualistic ego-centered. It abstracts your dynamic relationship with the other out of reality.
Deep love can be defined as: treat the other as yourself, love the other as yourself, because the other is in fact yourself, is part of your body. So what you do to/with/for the other, you are doing to yourself within the point of action of now. Deep love goes back to the pre-shamanistic personal awareness of the land, the plants and animals, the others in the tribe, and in fact the whole physical existence as parts of the personal body, and hence within personal responsibility.
Almost anything can be used as a model to show how the cherotic life works, even computer games. My kid got a computer game “Labyrinth” a few years back. It is a maze game with ever‑changing walls, with monsters bent on eating or shooting you if you don’t shoot them first. You have to rescue four men from four different cells and reach the door to the next level before you get killed three times. It, like life, appeared to be an action game requiring speed and quick reflexes. My kid has quick reflexes, so he was very good at this fast, high‑action game, full of tension, stress and glamour. He reached level 8 (of 12 levels) very quickly. But then he got restless and bored; so he quit playing.
Even though I could operate the controls to the game, there appeared to be no way for me to play the game successfully, because I did not and will not ever have speed and quick reflexes. But I started playing the game just to have something to do. I did want to reach the higher levels, but I put that want in my wakan brain and forgot it. (We will use this wakan brain in creating our reality later.) I accepted the framework of the game and started to absorb it into my body. I made it my own, even though it appeared I was a helpless victim of the game. For months I did not rescue even one man. But my body absorbed the rhythm of the changing walls. I began to feel where to move to avoid death and to get nearer to my objective. I did not try to understand because the events in the game are randomly nonlinear. But I tuned in on the reality of the game. By doing so, I changed the game into a slow strategy game. I did this by not resisting the structure, but by taking it on as my own.
This slow game offered much more fun to me than the fast game offered my son. If we measure the fun in time, my son only played the game semi‑regularly for only a few months, while I have played it now for a few years.
Every time I am about to move on to a new, higher level, I get stuck. I keep just about getting it, but then “failing.” This is because I let my wanting to get to the higher level out of my wakan brain, letting it become the goal that I am focused on. This raises the stress level to the point where I cannot do anything right. I get nervous and fearful.
I have learned to put my wants and goals away in my wakan brain ‑‑ to not focus on my wants and goals while still having them. I have learned that once I have my wants and goals in a priority order in my wakan brain, it sets the automatic process in motion to get what I want. If I tried to plan, plot, manipulate to get what I wanted, it would get in the way. I always get what I want, but rarely in the way I thought I would get.
Once I get my desires back into my wakan brain where they belong, the stress, fear, and nervous levels go down. The getting to the new level loses its special glamour, becoming just another state which I will some day get to, if not today, then maybe tomorrow. When this attitude is firmly implanted, one day I am guided into the new level. I cannot take credit for this. I am just let in. After this high point, my average score usually plunges. (A contraction.) If I stay calm and committed, my average score slowly climbs past the high point towards the next level. I have gone from not being able to get a single man to being on level 3, going for level 4. I went from being totally limited to being in the state of all possibilities. This was done not by anything I did or because of any skill I developed. It was done by enjoying playing even when there was no reachable goal. Enjoying playing unlocked every possibility.
Matter is symbol, is metaphor containing possibilities. Chero is the physical life energy in the form of packets of possibilities. These packets shape matter. These packets, in turn, are reshaped by each body or object they pass through. This is why we are affected by the stars, for example, (and the stars are affected by us)…and why we affect the Tarot cards or the I‑Ching coins we cast…why the physicists affect the subatomic particles they observe. This is the alchemical secret: by reshaping these inner packets, the material reality is reshaped.
These inner rivers of possibilities are two‑way on the linear level. This means the magical effects are always two‑way. The light of the sun warms us; but we affect the sun through the same channel. Again, we have entered the level of the dynamic web of relationships in which the individual does not exist. In place of the individual, there appear points of personal responsibility in a dance. It is not the sun that warms, nor is it us who are warmed. It is the dance of no dancers, the dance of relationships that warms, and that is warmed. Individualism hides this fundamental truth from most people.
These rivers of inner possibilities do not run only in a two‑way linear manner. They also travel nonlinearly. This creates a deep ocean under time‑space. In this ocean, there are nonlinear waves of possibility which pass through the points of personal responsibility which most people mistakenly see as individuality. When a wave passes through this, it is possible to personally amplify, mute, or change the wave. This makes the point of personal responsibility the moment of the universal creation. To accept this responsibility of the universal creation, we cannot step back from the ocean to claim the responsibility or judge.
We are then just water drops…individual water drops, not the ocean. To be in the moment of universal creation, in being the point of personal responsibility, we need to melt into being the ocean for all time, letting the dance happen through us, not thinking we are the dancers. In this point of personal responsibility, everything we do, think, and say is universally important, and not in the individually important sense.
Each center of the body is connected to many of the rivers of possibility. The nonlinear flow of the packets of possibilities within these rivers is chero. By transforming, transmuting, the packets of possibilities, it is actually possible to change matter, to change the material world. This alchemical fact is just the opening for the more important fact that reality is created, recreated every second by and within us.
We have said reality creation is a dance and that we are the dancers. But in truth, it is a dance without dancers. If we really take on personal responsibility for the dance, we surrender to the dance, give up individual “control”, give up individual linking with the results. By taking on the personal responsibility for the dance, we are the dance. We melt with the dance. We are only the dance. We admit these facts. It is not a question of becoming, but of remembering and admitting. It is a question of being, living, dancing lustfully, without controls or limits in responsibility. This quality is called “extensic”. The extensic life dance is beyond morals or limits. It joyfully digs into the dance to the juicy black core.
There is the magical principle of inter‑penetration, the spiritual fact that the universal existence is enclosed in everyone and in everything. To start to grasp this, we have to remember that the cherotic rivers flowing within matter run in a great many directions, both linearly and nonlinearly, both inward and outward. This is the web dance. The cherotic packets of possibilities, effectively changed within the person, are taken by these rivers throughout the entire web, affecting the entire web.
So you are never hopeless or without effect. You can always shift reality away from doubts, fears, and other mistaken creations. You can always transform, transmute yourself, situations and the universal currents into joyful dancing by extensic melting, which is the heart secret of using erour, the vulnerable strength.
Kinds of transmuting and transforming of situations and of self is the real purpose of alchemical art. You are not the source of effect, the dance of the web is. You melt forever with the dance within personal responsibility. The effect is caused by the everlasting interplay, inner dance, of the whole web of all possibilities with one another, creating seven dimension waves. You must enjoy the dance for its own sake, not some goal as an end. There is no end to the dance. Since the dance is everlasting, the holding‑on to any guilt, any doubt, any fear is just creating these things in the whole web, for which you are personally responsible. If you let go of these limited frames, your personal responsibility for them will vanish; moreover, their reality force will fade to a certain degree in the web.
When you admit you are melted into the dance, that you are the dance, and that every act and nonact, no matter how “small”, is profound, then reality shifts. The focus shifts from what you do, what you appear to be like, what effect you are having…shifts to enjoying extensically life, claiming any and all responsible act or thought as your own no matter who does it.
What we have here is only the first smell of fresh magic. Matter is hollow tubes containing fibers of packets of possibilities. Matter is symbol, is metaphor containing possibilities. These packets shape matter. These packets, in turn, are reshaped by each body /object they pass through. We are affected by the stars, and the stars are affected by us. We affect the Tarot cards and the I Ching coins we cast. The physicists affect the subatomic particles they observe.
By reshaping these inner packets, the material reality is reshaped.
The inner rivers of possibilities are two way on the linear level. The magical effects are always two way. The light of the sun warms us; but we affect the sun through the same channel.
We have entered the level of the dynamic web of relationships in which the individual does not exist. In place of the individual, there appear points of personal responsibility in a dance.
It is not the sun that warms, nor is it us who are warmed. It is the dance of no dancers, the dance of relationships that warms, and that is warmed.
Reality creation is a dance. We are the dancers. But in truth, it is a dance without dancers. If we really take on personal responsibility for the dance, we surrender to the dance, give up individual “control,” give up individual linking with the results. By taking on the personal responsibility for the dance, we are the dance. We melt with the dance. We are only the dance. We admit these facts. It is not a question of becoming, but of remembering and admitting. It is a question of being, living, dancing lustfully, without controls or limits in responsibility.
The life dance is beyond morals or limits. It joyfully digs into the dance to the juicy black core.
Cherotic Magic by Frank Moore by Barbara Smith, 1991
Due to complex reasons of historical conditions and need, artists from the industrialized nations of the world more or less simultaneously (late 1950’s – early 1970’s) felt a depth of experience uncontainable in ordinary and available cultural forms. They emerged with a language of remarkable similarity – clearly felt in retrospect to be shamanic and whose purposes extended far beyond the realm of the commercialized art market. One of these performance artists is Frank Moore who has just published an introductory manual for prospective apprentices in shamanic/art practices. The book is also a very helpful means of access to this particular realm of performance art for the historian and student.
Moore, paradoxically a severely disabled cerebral palsied human being, who cannot clearly utter a single word is simultaneously a clear and eloquent writer about a reality-shifting form of art he calls Cherotic Magic and a spectacularly courageous, ecstatic journeyer and practitioner of shamanic transformational art.
Reversing the ideas of normal causality, his book guides one towards powerful experiences of re-integration into a unified field of consciousness brought about by the apprenticeship. The radical purposes of the book initiate a teacher/student relationship more appropriately similar to a guru situation than the normal art student context which we all know can be one which borders on charismatic adulation. Rather, the relationship is intended to awaken and restructure the whole being with access to an interrelated “web of all possibilities,” a potentiated ground of existence, from which the student may return empowered with energy, vision and unflinching faith to change the so-called reality structure of this fragmented and specialized culture. The process is a form of magic, which inspires a sense of body wholeness and aliveness where the personal power is to be found. A manual of faith and a description of the nature of apprenticeship, the book is a clarification of the sort of contractual agreement one enters with a teacher, rarely stipulated but here clearly spelled out. This agreement is one of mutual responsibility where the risk is clearly seen to be taken by both parties.
Having explored these realms a good deal myself both in terms of self-discovery and also with teachers, I find the book to be rigorously tough in its demands (on the potential student and quite naturally the teacher as well), and it also very clearly describes qualities required (such as trust) and the benefits to be gained in these explorations (such as love).
Moore has broken the apprenticeship into segments with re-entry periods back into ordinary life between the intervals in order to accommodate Western students’ difficulty in going through the lengthy course in a sustained fashion. The fact that the student must exhibit a deep and long-term calling, will or faith to repeatedly return to the teaching is Moore’s greatest risk, for spiritual apprenticeship is not a common practice in Western culture. This is a little known fact that the apprenticeship entails risk in the making and/or breaking of the relationship not only in regard to the student but more so for the teacher.
Moore speaks of the a-logical interaction, as a journey along which student and teacher become soul mirrors. Moore is not seeking a following, however. He states to his credit, I believe, that such work is highly personal and requires one-to-one attention and becomes non-productive when he has many followers.
The radical nature of this esoteric apprenticeship practice includes the breaking of social mores and taboos in order to reach direct experience particularly in the realm of conventional sexuality. Moore clearly states however that the touching and erotic playing involved (Eroplay) is not driven by the goal of sexual intercourse, but is the refreshing awakening of what he calls Cherotic energy which becomes a free fund of available and heightened “juice” for healing and creativity. (These teachings parallel quite exactly the teachings I’ve experienced from my Native American shaman teacher and also Tantric practices.)
My first response to reading Cherotic Magic is one of resonance and appreciation, the feeling of knowing very deeply that of which he speaks as true and uncompromising. He gives examples and authentication through powerfully written, illuminating stories about his own early life of terrible isolation and study; the breakthroughs which allowed him to finally believe in his own intelligence, joy and beauty and to receive the powerful inner flow of intrinsically experienced wisdom and knowledge of these liberating teachings. These life passages correspond to such experiences of mystics everywhere. I appreciate many things about this book, not the least of which are the words Moore has coined to name certain qualities and goals of his work (such as Eroplay and Chero). One such word Erour, means vulnerable strength. Its meaning corresponds exactly to my own early performance experience. In the past, I put myself in very psychologically risky positions in performances and I was frequently criticized for doing so as if I were “hurting myself”. My own experience was quite to the contrary, although I was in fact going to “the place of fear or pain or constraint” in myself with vulnerability and because I deliberately chose to do so, it was an act of strength and I returned with released energy and power.
If anything in his book is weak, it is this issue of authority and how to define the limits (and/or goals) of guru/student practice. It is weak not because I think Frank is either weak or inauthentic … but because we live in a spiritually naïve culture. Most people I imagine are cynics. The book is not written for such people as there is no language that I know of to convince them a priori to any experience which in itself is convincing. Further, the way one meets one’s teachers in life is often inherently mysterious and a unique process. Perhaps the only ways a potential student can judge such persons and situations have first of all to do with one’s depth of calling and an experienced synchronicity. Failing that, one needs to feel one may leave the teacher at any time despite the pressure to stay and one can also inquire of former students as to their experience.
For me, it would be advantageous if he could paint a picture of what completion might look like. Is it simply staying the course (twelve years for a resident; seven on, five off approximately / seven days for the introductory course)? The difficulty is that completion of such a practice might look very different in each of the “graduates” and only a sense of demonstrable knowing and changed behavior would be adequate.
The book is replete with black and white drawings by Michael LaBash. Depending on prior biases, they can appear to be psychedelically violent and visceral with a heavy emphasis on sex. They are intricate intertwinings of interpenetrating fields which writhe over the entire drawing area with no central image. Rather, naked figures whole or in parts of both sexes and composite hermaphrodites with breasts and cocks weave in an out of planes and orifices. As I have said, Moore speaks in the text of making clear how Eroplay is not to be thought of as driving for sex or focused on it. Rather it comes from a presexual state of infancy, yet here the drawings are strongly sexual in my view and often horrific. (No doubt, however, not meant so much to be sexual as frank (pun intended).
Moore’s writing about the ethics of commitment is a powerful critique of our shallow culture. What he says rings true and created a sense of gratitude in me and inner resolution. He speaks with great personal authority.
In the general dialog of art and culture this form of art appears to be the most difficult to speak about partly due to its radicality and partly because it re-integrates art into religion, magic, belief, and effect. It means and makes change. I, myself have twice come to a bifurcation point re: some need to synthesize art as I practice it somewhat within the cultural dialog and spaces of my profession as against a chosen spiritual path (Buddhism or Native American teachings). I finally had to ask the question: which was my core path, art or the spiritual path? And could the creative process itself be a path to spiritual awakening and inner knowledge? Or was a core of spirit teachings the only way and the art must be derived from it. Not the least of which is the question of feminism. The female spiritual journey is for me a major issue within this questioning.
Moore himself raises the question of Shamanism /as art – /as performance – /as therapy. He cites performance as the bed of mystical initiation, rites of passage, mystical ceremonies where art/science, philosophy, and psychology and theology merge and become whole once again. Here, we may experience these things as at once ancient and strange. The breaking of restricting taboos and inner barriers moves towards a place not of isolated individualism, but one of connectedness both in the interior landscapes and with each other.