"This manual for self-realization comes not from a mountain but from the mud.... My qualification is not that I am better than you but I am worse."
This book is not just for people struggling with hard addictions! Though it could be especially helpful in such cases. This book is for any being that happens to be human. At some point, every human will face some form of addiction—and grapple that tendency to satiate the insatiable. It is the human condition: endless and wandering craving, grasping, and attachment, all fired up by fear. However, the opportunity to transmute addiction is also part of the human condition, and Russell Brand serves as an inspiring and seasoned way shower.
With his classic ruthless honesty, reckless humor, colorful analogies, skinned-alive humility, philosopher's perspective, oracular tongue, familiarity with non-dual states, artful cussing, and grandiose vocabulary, Russell entertains as he educates about the 12 step program and his journey of recovery. By the way, you've never heard the 12 steps quite this before. Even seasoned 12 steppers will enjoy Russell's radical rendition of the process. He shares that he's been sober for 14 years—and confesses to still taking it one day at a time. That's all he can grasp.
Raw, intimate personal stories are woven through the exploration of the steps. Brand himself has experienced multiple addictions: heroin, other hard drugs, alcohol, caffeine, sex, work, fame, digital media, fame, chocolate, and even overusing his professional taxi account. He reaches beyond his personal specifics and speaks to all forms of addiction with compassion and clarity.
12 step groups may not be right for everyone, due to a slew of various reasons. This 12 step guide is accessible to anyone, whether inside or outside of AA, NA, everything A, and especially to cynics, the impossibly misunderstood, and those who consider themselves to be worse than anyone. Whoever you are, you will find some solace and resonance reading this, and that heavy, armored shell might start to crack a little.
12 step work can be a wonderful compliment for integrating entheogenic medicine journeys, with the right mentor and community. In my experience, good integration work and ongoing self-reflection can help one to receive all the long-lasting benefits of entheogenic medicine work, and this book could be helpful for that process.
Brand freely offers comprehensive program materials on his website. Right alongside a mantra addressed to divine power, supreme truth, and love, you'll find each of the 12 steps laced with the "F" word, starting with Step 1: Are you a bit f*****?
This book is a radical act of courage and another gem in the growing culture of transparency. Cheers to the the journey of recovery and infinite personal development.
If you experience the audiobook, you will get to hear Brand's delightful Estuary English accent.
Addiction is when natural biological imperatives, like the need for food, sex, relaxation or status, become prioritised to the point of destructiveness. It is exacerbated by a culture that understandably exploits this mechanic as it's a damn good way to sell Mars bars and Toyotas.
I don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Wow, I’m on a planet in the Milky Way, in infinite space, bestowed with the gift of consciousness, which I did not give myself, with the gift of language, with lungs that breathe and a heart that beats, none of which I gave myself, with no concrete understanding of the Great Mysteries, knowing only that I was born and will die and nothing of what’s on either side of this brief material and individualized glitch in the limitless expanse of eternity and, I feel, I feel love and pain and I have senses, what a glorious gift! I can relate, and create and serve others or I can lose myself in sensuality and pleasure. What a phenomenal mystery!’ Most days I just wake up feeling a bit anxious and plod a solemn, narrow path of survival, coping. ‘I’ll have a coffee’, ‘I’ll try not to reach for my phone as soon as I stir, simpering and begging like a bad dog at a table for some digital tidbit, some morsel of approval, a text, that’ll do.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Since rising to fame in 2003, Russell Brand has established himself as one of one of the world’s most celebrated stand-up comedians. Aside from stand-up, Russell is also a successful author, broadcaster, actor, podcaster, columnist, political commentator and mental health & drug rehabilitation activist. He has 2 cats, a dog, a wife, a baby, 10 chickens and 60 thousand bees, in spite of being vegan curious.
We don't make art for the applause. We make art because we MUST—or our soul will starve to death. You know.
And on a deeper level, my ego can't take personal credit for the art that I make. My job is to get out of the way, more than it is to "accomplish" anything.
The act of writing my book about our healing journey with the sacred iboga medicine was a practice of surrender, letting spirit weave the story that wanted to birth itself through the etched vessel that is me.
I had no idea if anyone would even "like" the book that came through me because it was so... radical. With ruthless honesty, I revealed our most intimate struggles. It wasn't a flattering work, but I knew I had to do it, even to help one person by sharing our story.
But when applause happens, it's nice. It is. This means that someone found the creation to be useful, and it is good to feel useful within the human hive. It's just a human thing.
So thank you! I am honored and grateful that Heart Medicine recently won the National Indie Excellence Award for the Spiritual category, and it was the top finalist for the Addiction Recovery category. It was also a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for the New Age category, and received an honorable mention in the San Francisco Book Festival. Yay!
And I gotta add, it was truly a tribal process to birth the book. I couldn't have done it without the blessing of Moughenda Mikala, the generous and skilled shaman we worked with, and my beloved husband, Chor Boogie aka Joaquin Lamar Hailey, for his courage to be so transparent, steady support for this project, and beautiful ART, the multifaceted maestra Anandha Ray for the book cover design, author photo, and love, Mark Weiman of Regent Press for his wonderful production skill, and all the magical ones who contributed quotes!
I was lucky enough to be in the same city as Rak Razam as he was on his way to Burning Man. We jumped into the deep end of conversation. Hanging out with Rak is a little like being around a live wire that spouts harmonic oracular transmissions. In this interview, he shares about his newest projects.
Rak Razam is a leading experiential journalist, writing about and helping shape the emergence of a new cultural paradigm in the 21st century. A writer, film producer, and culture maker, he bridges the worlds of shamanism, consciousness and popular culture.
Author of the critically acclaimed book Aya Awakenings: A Shamanic Odyssey and the companion volume of interviews, The Ayahuasca Sessions (www.ayathebook.com), he is a frequent lecturer on ayahuasca and the shamanic revival sweeping the West. He wrote, produced and co-directed the groundbreaking new visionary documentary Aya: Awakenings (www.aya-awakenings.com) that toured across 10 cities in the USA in early 2014.
• Rak Razam shares about his inspiring new and long-standing projects for sacred medicine and social change.
• [We are] a new generation of Western people who are going through the growing pains, responsibility, and learning curve of taking on board what it means to be medicine people or shamans in a global village.
• We are moving from dominator culture into a new energy coming from the planet herself in this global shamanic resurgence.
• How can we be connected to the earth and resonating in right relationship with the earth?
• What does it mean to be “Hard wired for God”?
• We get the medicines we need when it’s time for them…
CONNECT WITH RAK:
Shamans of a Global Village: Documentary Film Series
Scientific studies with Ayahuasca & 5-MeO-DMT
Aya Awakenings: The Book, Film, & Retreats
In a Perfect World: Podcast hosted by Rak Razam
The 5-Meo-DMT medicine, extracted from the Bufo alvarius toad, seems to be a real life wizard's tool from the fairy tales of old.
Ralph Metzner gives us a fascinating and comprehensive book about this powerful and obscure psychedelic substance. Detailed trip reports offer vivid glimpses into the experience. Guidelines for intentions, setting, and usage are not only helpful; they could be life-saving for the adventurous psychonaut. The possible outcomes include wondrous healing or bizarre negative reactions, and all are thoroughly examined.
Metzner is no distanced scientist, writing from the point of view outside the ceremony. He writes directly from the heart of his many mystical first hand experiences. He has even spent time with the sacred creatures that give the earth this profound medicine when consciously collecting the medicine himself.
Metzner's voice is a vital contribution to the contemporary study of 5-Meo-DMT and the safe, effective, therapeutic application of entheogens.
There was a complete dissociative loss of awareness of my surroundings. However, apparently this disconnect was a function of my eyes being closed, because at one point I opened my eyes momentarily and could see that I was protected by my friends from bumping into things or rolling into the fireplace, in a kind of instant "reality check." Immediately after closing my eyes I was immersed again into the swirling, seething maelstrom of synesthetic sensations.
Whereas Frof interpreted his experience in terms of the cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism, I attempted to make sense of my experience (afterwards) using the language of Vedanta, as well as Tantra yoga.
There was a feeling of being in the nucleus of the psyche. Awareness of "all and everything" and simultaneously, "This is IT." The Vedantists say at the highest level of consciousness there is only being (sat), consciousness (chit), and blissful joy (ananda). In my experience there was no self, no body, no time or space, but there was being.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ralph Metzner, Ph.D. has a B.A. in philosophy and psychology from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard University, has been involved in the study of transformations of consciousness ever since, as a graduate student, he worked with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later Ram Dass) on the Harvard Psilocybin Projects. He co-wrote The Psychedelic Experience, and was editor of The Psychedelic Review. During the 1970s, Ralph spent 10 years in the intensive study and practice of Agni Yoga, a meditative system of working with light-fire life-energies. He wrote Maps of Consciousness, one of the earliest attempts at a comparative cartography of consciousness; and Know Your Type, a comparative survey of personality typologies, ancient and modern. He was the Academic Dean for ten years, during the 1980s, at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where he taught courses there on “Altered States of Consciousness” and “Developing Ecological Consciousness.” He is now Professor Emeritus. He maintains a part-time psychotherapy practice, and conducts numerous workshops on consciousness transformation, both nationally and internationally. His books include The Well of Remembrance, The Unfolding Self, Green Psychology, and two edited collections on the science and the phenomenology of Ayahuasca and Teonanácatl.
Cauldron Yoga, Gaian Poetics, & the Way of the Ancient Future by Richard Power (2016) was my daily morning nourishment. It drip fed me universal truths through the tongue of a seasoned yogi and wordsmith.
This is why I love independent media. In this book of "yoga," you will not find a neatly organized curriculum of poses and philosophy that seeks to package and sell the Great Mystery. God knows we don't need another one of those. Rather, you will walk hand in hand with Richard as he shares his awe, known to be the highest state in tantra yoga, chamatkar. He shares his intimate journey as a spiritual warrior, examining politics, human rights, racism, classism, sexism, creativity, the earth—and the awareness of the humans that tread over Her.
No, you will find no linear path here. You will find a magical labyrinth, with surprises of situational awakening and serendipitous art around every page. The book itself could be a system of divination, as you could turn to any page for an auspicious transmission. You will find ancient artifacts and the nectar of his practice. You will find the mythic spiral of Creation that he lovingly extolls in the book. And you will find an experience, for this book does not just talk about awakening, it actually facilitates it.
From within the perfect triangle of the Sakti Yantra formed by the growth of three redwoods, on a fire trail in the Tamalpais watershed, I will tell you the story of my first encounter with their kind.
Decades ago. I stretched out to meditate in a redwood grove in Muir Woods. I soon fell asleep (i.e. into that state deeper, purer and more direct that what we imagine we are doing in "seated meditation"). And then as I came back into "waking" consciousness, in the space in between, the Redwoods spoke to me.
They said that long ago they were going to learn "human language" but that they only went as far as the vowels. They said the vowels were powerful and sacred to them. But that they chose to go no further. Because the consonants and all that stretched out beyond them only lead to madness.
So they showed me how to speak with them. Aaaaaaaa. Eeeeeee. Iiiiiiiii. Oooooh. Uuuuuuuu.
Some years later, I met their elder sisters the Giant Sequoia, and ...
Well, I'm happy to know I'm not the only one who talks to trees... There is a certain sweet solace in this solidarity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Power teaches me the art of honoring people. He continually pollinates the beauty and divine gifts of everyone—by being the student of everyone. He is a master with the genuine beginner's mind. Catch him at a live event if you can! The tone of his voice alone is an instrument of healing.
Richard Power is a writer, speaker and yoga teacher. He offers workshops, classes and private instruction in yoga and meditation. He is the author of ten books.
His blog, Words of Power, focuses on exploring new language for the truths of the ancient future, and reflects insights into Vajrayana Buddha Dharma, Kashmir Shiva-Sakti philosophy, Hatha and Tantra Yoga, the Shamanic path, and other aspects of the world's collective mystical heritage. It is also a source of commentary on human rights, progressive politics, and vital sustainability issues such as coming to grips with Climate Crisis.
For much of his life, Power worked in the fields of security and intelligence. He has delivered briefings and led training in forty countries, and was an adviser to governments and corporations. His views on security, risk and intelligence have been featured in interviews on CNN, PBS, NPR and the BBC, and quoted in mainstream news media, including Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters and Associated Press.
Power grew up in New York City, and lives in San Francisco.
Author Photo Credit: Brenna Geehan
Power's digital stream of consciousness is also accessible via
Amazon author's page
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