THE ISLAND OF MY LIFE
An Original Self-help Book
David G. Yurth
Holladay, Utah 2011
All Rights Reserved
As a culture, we are deeply, grievously wounded. We long for a moment’s peace, for surcease from the relentless madness that assaults us every day of our lives. The insatiable emptiness that fills our days consumes so much of our time and attention that there is no time left to just Be. The media bombards us with a never-ending barrage of death, destruction and mayhem. Advertisers constantly remind us we are too much of this or not enough of that. Truth is twisted to take advantage of our uncertainty and the bastions of certitude we need to rely on can no longer be trusted.
At the end of the day, we are left exhausted, tormented, anxious and afraid. We end our days without fulfillment and take pills, drink booze and smoke dope to get through the nights. When morning finally dawns, we begin again – striving, hoping, forging ahead, knowing in our heart of hearts that there has to be a reason for all this madness and travail. If only we could figure out what we’re doing here, why we ended up on this crazy planet in the first place, maybe we could make some sense out of the way we live.
Life would be so much easier if we could just get on with it, without having to find some meaning in it all the time. But then, what would be the point? We are not built that way. We have to know why. We yearn to know where we came from, why we have come here, and where we’re bound once our mortal lives are ended. And this is the fire that can be harnessed to set us free.
If the myth of Mother Culture is to be believed, we are shameful, spiteful creatures. Everything about the way we come to see ourselves and each other is framed to reinforce this awful idea. How did it come to be this way? Can we do anything about it? If we can, why hasn’t anyone told us about it before?
Daniel Quinn got it right. The cultures we live in, particularly in the West, have evolved to embody the notion that there is something inherently wrong with us. In this cultural, shame-based view, the path to safety, fulfillment and redemption can only be found in the pursuit of work. The nature of the work we are compelled to perform is largely determined by someone else. The sufficiency of the work we do is judged by others, by those who control our societies. In fact, in this model, we are compelled to conform to the requirements of the social order controlled by others at the risk of our very survival. The culture decides what is to be done, how it is to be done, and who is to do it. The culture dictates the social agendas, and all are assimilated to satisfy these agendas. Those who do not voluntarily allow themselves to be assimilated are annihilated. This is the world we live in.
As the myth of Mother Culture has spread throughout the world, we have witnessed the annihilation of entire cultures that resisted assimilation. We don’t need to revisit the list. We all know who they were. Those who control our cultures have taken upon themselves the right to make decisions that were once the sole province of the Gods – they alone have the power to decide who lives and who dies.
Where is there room in this model for joy and self-actualization? Where can we go, who can we turn to, who can we trust to guide us away from this Flatland to a place of love and light and joy? In the final analysis, there are only a few options left to those who are not willing to allow their lives to be used up to satisfy someone else’s agenda. That is what this book is about. My notion about this process is perhaps different from others you may have considered. It is based on a personal philosophy which says that each of us arrives on the island of our life with an infinitely powerful connection to Source embedded in the core of our Being. I refer to this core aspect of our identity as the Ancient One. It knows all, sees all, IS all. It is embodied within us as an our own individuated expression of the eternal nature of the Great Chain of Being.
Before we are born, the features that comprise our islands are already formed. Because of the nature of this dimension we live in, the eternal nature of the Ancient One is cloaked by an envelope of architectural limitations that deprive us of the ability to experience anything in the world around us directly. As a result, everything we think we know about the world is skewed by the sensory limitations built into our physical equipment. As a species, we are all the same – as individuals, we are each unique. Beneath the physical construction of our bodies and the energy fields that operate within and around us, somewhere in the very center of us, the Ancient One longs to bring the disparate parts of us to a full measure of integration. What lies between the person we appear to be and the luminous, totally empowered, fully actualized Being we yearn to become is only the nature of our physicality.
Carlos Castaneda wrote extensively about this for nearly three decades. His writings marked a path for others who have mustered the courage and fortitude needed to follow in his footsteps. Miguel, Ruiz, Alberto Villoldo, Fritjof Capra, Stanislov Grof and others unearthed the vestiges of original cultural traditions that can be used to move us along this path. The remaining survivors of those original cultures are now offering to share many of their ancient secrets with the rest of us.
In his book ‘Tales of Power,’ Castaneda first wrote about his metaphor of the Island. The image he created, which was based on a concept he referred to as the tonal, can be adapted to fit our purposes in the following way:
The tonal is like the top of a table–an island. And on this island we have everything. This island is, in fact, the world. There is a personal tonal for every one of us, and there is a collective one for all of us at any given time, which we can call the tonal of the times. It’s like the rows of tables in a restaurant, every table has the same configuration. Certain items are present on all of them. They are, however, individually different from each other; some tables are more crowded than others; they have different food on them, different plates, different atmosphere, yet we have to admit that all the tables are very alike. The same thing happens with the tonal . We can say that the tonal of the times is what makes us alike, in the same way it makes all the tables in a restaurant alike. Each table separately, nevertheless, is an individual case, just like the personal tonal of each of us. But the important factor to keep in mind is that everything we know about ourselves and about our world is on the island of the tonal.
Modern science has discovered important clues about the marriage of consciousness with our physicality. In short, we now have at our disposal a broad palate of carefully researched, rigorously validated and time-tested strategies for healing woundedness. What has not yet been provided, in a form that is palatable to those of us seeking to escape the confines of Mother Culture, is a definitive road map. In the Hopi tradition, a symbol has been created to symbolize our quest to find integration. It is referred to as the ‘Man in the Maze.’ In this symbol, a lone person stands free at the gateway to a stylized maze, the pathways of which eventually lead away from the center of darkness to light and freedom. This symbol portrays more powerfully than any I have ever found what we are trying to accomplish.
Figure 1 – The Man in the Maze
The “Man in the maze” is an emblem of the Tohono O’odham Nation of Southern Arizona (formerly known as the Papago Indians). The design, depicting a man exiting a labyrinth, is most often seen on basketry dating back as far as the nineteenth century, and occasionally in Hopi silver art. Labyrinths are common motifs in ancient petroglyphs (Native American rock art), and often resemble those found in ancient Greece and other parts of the world. This symbol is said to represent a person’s journey through life. Although the design appears to be a maze, it is actually a unicursal figure with many twists and turns. In the O’odham tradition, these are said to represent choices made in life. The center is dark, as the journey is one that proceeds from darkness to light.
In the context of our model, the journey from darkness to light requires persistence, guidance, a sense of direction and personal power. So long as the black holes representing unresolved conflict and woundedness continue to dissipate our personal energy, precious little remains available to support our quest for personal actualization. Our task in life, as the Man in the Maze symbol suggests, then, is to find a way to liberate enough energy on our island to sustain us during our quest. The promise it holds for each of us is compelling – if we have the courage to pursue this path, if we focus on the process with unswerving commitment, if we are willing to step outside the boundaries of our preconceived notions about who and what we are and allow the Ancient One within us to speak, if we are willing to examine our own faults and the misdeeds of others with circumspection and understanding, we will eventually find the light we seek.
The Island of My Life contains all the secrets, processes, methods and technologies I have discovered during my own quest for actualization. Like everyone else, I am still on the journey, still doing what I can to move towards the light. For more than 50 years I have been a seeker. Along the way, I have occasionally made discoveries that have helped me by freeing me from ignorance, bigotry and despair. Even though there is no cure for stupidity, it is enough for me to know that every mistake holds the promise of another opportunity. My role in this process is to find a way to articulate what I have come to understand in a way that is clear, compelling and useful to others. To the extent that the information contained in this volume rises to that standard, I will be satisfied.
I write about this because I have to. What I want most of all is to know, when I pitch my tent for the last time before crossing the great divide, that I did what I came here to do. Beyond that, nothing else matters. Stalking destiny is what my life is about. Knowing what to do, being prepared to act without hesitation, learning how to recognize the cubic centimeter of chance when it appears, focusing my personal power to engineer the island of my life as I want it to be, these are the things that are important to me. I gladly share what I know about this process with the fond hope that you will find something useful for your own quest.