These Were the Times

These were the times of heresy and discovery.

These were the days Ivan (first from the right) introduced me to a Rosicrucian Order, and challenged my faith and dogma.

These were the days our maid took me to gnostic masses and challenged me to see my privilege.

These were the days of attempting to extract nutrient from flowers to feed the hungry, of seeing specters appear and glide, of exploring abandoned scientific instruments in a University closed by the army.

These were the days before the girlfriends and the bullets, before the depression and suicidal thoughts. These were the days before the hanging by my ankles over a four story building to make me panic. These were the days before the finding of my true strength.

These were my Zacamil days, when that funny looking boy, second from the right, saw the world open up and the storm of time showed him infinity and the eternal power of not being.

Was I ever truly him? How did he know to survive by becoming me?

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A Child Sitting by the Ocean

As a child in El Salvador, I would stare at the ocean in this picture, vast and loud.

In El Espino, this almost infinite amount of water expanded from horizon to horizon, flooding the consciousness of the observer. As far as the eye can see, ocean all the way to the sides. Just imagine that vast ocean pulling at your consciousness, stretching your vision as much as it can be stretched.

I sat there just watching, trying to encompass such vastness with my eyes. It pulls on the mind. It pulls with that moving uniformity, always changing and always staying the same. Nothing to break that moving monotony.

Behind me, the jungle. Which is to say, a vast nothingness. Only a hint of something behind me, also watching this ocean. And as the ocean keeps trying to penetrate my consciousness, as it almost drowns me with its almost behemoth presence.

I try to get a little bit bigger than it, to a be able to hold it. But my vision can no longer stretch. That rumbling comes from in front of me at first, but very soon that tremor of sound is encompassing me from all sides until I don’t know what is pulling at me more: the sight or the sound. 

After a while there’s no difference. There is just the ocean. Vast. And the little me that was there is subsumed by that roaring waters coming at me through my eyes and ears. Now, every little thought that tried to come up and say something, whisper something, was drowned.

I had been irrevocably swallowed by that monster. Dissolved. Even the sun who was shining harsh, hot, unbelievably hot on me, no longer seems to have a presence. Even the heat itself had become just part of that roar, part of that rumble and rolling of consciousness.

The regular movement of that vibration has by now become every sensation outside of me, and inside.

Lightning in My Head

In the midst of a massacre, we were laying down at Hell’s gate, waiting for death.

Looking up, I saw a peaceful blue sky far above us. My ankle was throbbing from a shot wound, right where an asp had bit me in a dream days earlier.

Like lightning inside the head, the realization that all states are already in me struck.

This bolt of light showed me the opening across the dream beyond which lies the path of mastery of perception.

A Note to the Person who Said It’s not a Big Deal to be Told to Go Back Where you Came From.

People like me are told those hateful words all the time. They are meant to make you feel less, and to get others to bully you. They are meant to make feel out of place, like your contribution doesn’t count, and like you will never be welcome in your own land.

It is a racist move precisely because of that intent. Yes, we all learn to live with it, to ignore it, and to continue being decent human beings.

Nonetheless, it hurts.

It hurts to see it being done to your children and the people you love. It’s easy for you to say “so what? Get over it. It’s not a big deal”

Ah! The callousness of the privileged! How well you mask your racism under a pretense of emotional equanimity! Those of us who have experienced over and over, however, can see the truth behind your pretend wisdom. You are not above the fray. You are the instigator.

Sharing my Inner Space/ 32 years of Art (a book review)

I have read Martivón Galindo’s Sharing My Inner Space, and I realize now that with every painting and every poem she has been marking a special space in the journey that so many of us undertook back in the 80’s, when the Salvadoran diaspora uprooted us from the place where we wanted to live, love, die, and create. We left because we had to, away from decades of war and oppression, and everywhere we went we kept looking hard inside the most recondite corners of the heart for that something we brought with us, to make a life and create art, and to find ourselves even in places that forever made us feel strangers.

In this book, Martivón gifts us with a tremendous experience through the use of poetry, print, and painting. It is a powerful storm that penetrates your consciousness under the command of an accomplished artist who has dived into the depths of her soul, and confronting the turbulent history of war, exile, emerges in ultimate triumph a master of her perceptions. She takes us through her encounter with exile, an event that shaped an entire generation of Salvadorans, but she does more than make us look at the world, she takes us with her as the seed of her soul emerges from that encounter triumphant, and continues to create and define her artistic world.

Martivón is not content with showing us her skill and creativity. She shares with us that most intimate process of her genius: the process she has gone through as she discovers her true self. We witness this discovery when she manages to put in word and image the creative powers of a soul that is always seeking justice and always burning bright with the wild fire of truth.

Porque lo invisible es el misterio
encerrado en la lágrima de una estrella
Ayer como hace treinta años
busco lo que no está
para encontrar mi luz
mi propia sombra
en el invisible gran universo de lo posible––Martivon (pg. 160)

Every great artist has an inner process through which her silent, intimate center faces the vast expanse of the unknown, and every one of them produce art that touches in us that most intimate abode. Their art awakens somehow our own truth. Martivón’s art does that for us, of course, but she takes a step further. Sharing My Inner Space is a living document showing that invisible inner process through which her genius emerges.

Witnessing this book is a most enjoyable experience. I promise you, the core of your perception will be touched by it, and you will find yourself on a journey through your own inner space. I recommend this book unreservedly.

This Refugee’s Heart Forever Longs

I was a refugee once. I knew nothing of an “American dream,” nor did I seek economic prosperity or opportunities. Nothing about your dollar called me. I came here because the army in my country was getting paid one million dollars by your government to kill people like me.

There are so many of us who came here, not to find a better life, but simply to survive. A better life? For life, period.

The road is dangerous for most. We know it well. You risk aggressions, robbery, rape, and death. You give yourself to the fates, the blessing of the elements, and the hope for the kindness of the brotherhood of humans.

You are grateful when you arrive, but you know the ordeal has just begun.

I was lucky to have been able to prove I was persecuted back home, for being a student of Philosophy, for working for war refugees, for speaking up for justice and a better world. Those were my crimes. That made me dangerous. I considered myself fortunate. I arrived to the US unscathed, and I stayed without once being detained. I went to court, and I was able to prove my case. I was one of less than 2% of Salvadorans granted political asylum. The Reagan administration was adamant to not grant any more than that, lest the public knew what he was really doing to my people. I was lucky. There were so many more more deserving, more in need, and more invisible.

The love for your family forces you to suffer all indignities in a place where you don’t feel alive. Between a cold hell and the fear of death, you take one more step each day towards a future where perhaps your children will feel like they have a place to call home. 

For the love of them you leave the people you love and the land where your spirit thrives. For them you accept as normal a life of racism, police harassment, and the indignities of always being the lesser, the other, the silent forgotten. For the sake of your children you give up even the hope of truly belonging to the society you give your life and work to.

Your mind is forever now on the day to day issues of survival, raising children who forget your language and adopt the manners of the people who won’t ever see you as one of them. Your aspiration is to one day see your children happy. Your mind settles for the hope of one day being normal, but the heart forever longs for that place where you once felt a human being.

What Is a Toltec Survivor

The word Survivor in The Teachings of a Toltec Survivor is not just about me. Yes, I have survived war, exile, two massacres, death squads, shots, magical attacks, tuberculosis, and the bubonic plague. But that’s not really why the term appears in the title. It is not because I am still alive; because, while my beloved death can be evaded today, she will one day succeed. Death is the most relentless of hunters.

These teachings are of a Toltec survivor because the Tolteca in me has survived, though the world has tried to bury him with lies and cover him in the illusion of self-involved problems. The Teachings have also survived. They have survived genocide and the night of forgetfulness.

It has been five hundred years since the light of this continent, this American continent, was covered by the European invasion. The conquest and colonization tried to eliminate the cultures, the language, the religions, the way of life; and more than anything, the identity of the inhabitants of this American continent.

For over five hundred years, what we were has been obscured, covered and forgot. And yet, through this long night of five hundred years, I’ve survived. If you are reading this, that same ineffable and unexplainable something may also survive in you.

Check out my book here: The Teachings of a Toltec Survivor

Of the Inca and the Toltec

A reader asks: What is the difference between the Toltec and the Inca?

The Inca, ruling from the Andes of Peru, tend to be more isolationist. It reminds me of the Tibetan in many ways, up in the heights of the world, protected from all other influences, they grow strong for millennia. Their social hierarchy was unavailable, and the emperor was considered a god on earth. Their ruling class was a different race than the indigenous population. In fact, the ruling elite was white and of Semitic overtones. Incestuous, like the ruling families of early egypt and medieval Europe, their genetic pool deteriorated over time, but were able to maintain hegemony in their control of the population for thousands of years. On the fringe of their rule, the Amazon shamans were practicing old rituals dedicated to the spirits of the jungle more in touch with the prehistory of humanity than with the advancement of civilization. In this, too, the similarity with Tibetan history is striking. The highly sophisticated spiritual technology of the Lamas shared the land with the tantric practices of the rugged shamans who existed in the mountains long before the development of Buddhism and the Vedantic philosophies. In modern times, the shamans of Perú combine the uses of rapé and ayahuasca of the jungle with some of the cultural icons of the Inca, and mix more and more with the trappings of Catholicism and Judaism as they seek to attract tourists.

The Toltec on the other hand, were not the ruling class of their people. Originally, the Toltec were the esoteric schools of the Nahuas, the people of Mexico and Central America, not their ruling class. They were eclectic and world oriented, mixing the technologies dispersed all over the world. They were more interested in the spiritual attainment than the ruling. That said, there were times when they were sought to rule, to advice, or to maintain civilization. Their identity, however, was always with humanity as a whole. The two civilizations, the Nahua and the Inca, differed essentially in that the former was open and eclectic, and the latter closed and hierarchical. The Toltec would bring people from Mongolia, Japan, Egypt, and Europe. Their techniques were the accomplishment of Alchemy, magick, and the initiatory schools of the West. Their shamanism was of the desert and the volcano.

Both civilizations, however, did commerce and learned from each other over the centuries. The pyramids of Teotihuacan made strong use of Mica, a mineral they would obtain 3,000 miles south, from the jungles of the Amazon. In Central America, El Salvador to be precise, both civilizations maintained their borders. It was in that border that my people grew and learned.

CHECK OUT MY UPCOMING BOOK: TEACHINGS OF A TOLTEC SURVIVOR. CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

For those afraid of immigrants and refugees: embrace your laws and your highest cultural light.

Someone asked me if I thought we should bend over and forget our laws and our culture and just allow the people marching from Central America to come in, and if I thought they came to assimilate and work, or to be supported by us. This person also said that we should not feel responsible for the mistakes they have made and they should leave us alone and fix things in their own land.

Here is my response:

In the first place, they would not need help if we left them alone to begin with. It is our intervention in their affairs that have created this situation. Historical ignorance is bliss to nationalists, they do not have to see what they do to other nations in the name of economic privilege.

Second, they are not breaking the law. They are following it. These people are marching to seek asylum, as our laws allow. They are not breaking the law, but following it. When they are here, they ask for asylum and we should, under our own laws, process them and reject those who are deemed dangerous or undeserving.

Third, yes, they will come here and assimilate into our laws. They will contribute and add the richness of their culture just like every other wave of immigrants have done since the beginning of this nation.

Lastly, I don’t know any Central American who wants to be supported. And I know thousands of them. It is part of their culture to be hard workers.

So, I suggest you follow your own laws, pay attention to your own cultural roots, and welcome those who seek a chance to contribute in this vast land of their ancestors (they are, for the most part, natives after all). Do not bend your laws or culture. Embrace and be true to them.

El dulce flotar de Consuelo

Recuerdo el día cuando mi abuelita Consuelo se desmayó y la sostuve en mis brazos.

Me preguntó al despertar si acaso la muerte sería como ese dulce flotar hacia el vacío que acababa de experimentar.

“Porque si así es,” me dijo con su inteligente y alegre sonrisa, “ya no le tengo miedo a la muerte.”

A ese dulce vacío voló hace un año mi abuelita.

Ahí estaremos un día, como siempre lo estamos…

Como está la casa de tejas y rayos de sol con humo de leña.

Como está su cuarto con risas de niños y paredes de santos.

Ahí, en ese vacío detrás de las memorias

donde se resuelven vivencias

donde la historia se vuelve viento

donde lo antiguo reverdece entre pájaro y grillo…

Ahí nos espera el consuelo eterno de su vela perpetua.

La quiero por siempre, Abuelita.