‘Dispelling Wetiko’: Paul levy and the future of humanity

Anyone who reads his work will quickly be made aware of the enormous amounts of study that lie behind the writing of Paul Levy—study in the form of wide and vast reading, of deep and patient thought, and, perhaps above all, a never-ending process of extraordinarily close observation. Observation of what? For the moment, the answer to that question can best be given in two parts. First, Paul Levy is an acute and close observer of the nature of life. Second, he is an acute and close observer of us, of we, of the ones who live inside of that life.

This distinction, between on the one hand simply “living” or “being alive,” and, on the other, living or being alive inside of life, is a distinction of absolute importance in Levy’s writing and thinking. Levy’s great subject as a humanist and psycho-philosopher isn’t simply the state or condition of what most people more or less unthinkingly call “life.” And neither, strictly speaking, is his great subject us, which is to say, people, or humans, if you will—the higher organisms that are assumed, again for the most part unthinkingly, to be in possession of the thing called “life.”

No, the situation as Levy sees it in regard to those who “live” and that which “gets lived” is quite different from the way most of us see it. Most of us see the situation in terms of a fairly simple duality whereby there are certain things that “live” (you and me, Aunt Meg and Uncle Cal, etc.), and there is also the external condition, state, or quality generally referred to as “life,” which is the thing or concept that Meg and Cal and all the others “use up” in the course of their being alive. It’s almost as though “life” is what’s in the gas can, and each of us is a lawnmower. As long as the “stuff of life” keeps getting poured into us, or as long as we’re able to keep breathing it in and combusting it inside ourselves, we’re “alive.” If we run out of gas, however, or, more likely, if we become unable to combust it inside ourselves any longer, we no longer “have” life and are therefore no longer alive. “Life” goes on. We don’t.

In Levy’s way of thinking and seeing, however, this kind of simple duality disappears altogether and is replaced by an entirely different relationship between the individual self that lives or has life, and the state or nature of the existence that that individual self lives inside of.

In other words, the individual being or self is inseparable from what makes it alive. Instead of being a passive recipient of “life” or “existence,” it is a part of that existence. Call it “external existence,” for the moment, if that makes the idea seem easier. In truth, though, this existence is both internal and external, and it’s both internal and external simultaneously and all the time. What we’re calling the individual self or individual being, therefore, is a part of all existence everywhere. This is to say, in turn, that it is part of the entire world.

I’m in favor of a couple of clarifications before we swim into the deeper water—indeed, the veritable ocean—that lies ahead.

First, this concept of the unity of self and universe isn’t so literal or mechanistic as to suggest that if a person somewhere drops a hammer on his or her big toe, every corresponding big toe in the universe will feel the pain. On the other hand, though, the unity is by no means only metaphorical. This oneness is real, and, if humanity is going to survive, it must be understood as such.

Anyone familiar with Hamlet and Lear, or with poets like Blake and Wordsworth, will be acquainted with the idea already, as will serious literary readers in general. Wordsworth’s famous “My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky” suggests it: The heart and the rainbow are both part of the same natural cosmos; both exist inside of that cosmos; and both are composed of and have been created from the same natural substance or material. Therefore an influence exists between them just as an influence must exist—and be felt—between planetary bodies.

For the pantheist Wordsworth, the matter of recognizing, feeling, and being conscious of this oneness is not optional but is necessary for the sustenance and continuation of life. The poet says that as a boy he was conscious of the great cosmic oneness; he is still conscious of it now that he is “a man”; and it had better still be true “when I shall grow old / Or let me die!”

As we go on, we will see that for Paul Levy—and for us—the penalty, nothing less than the collapse of human life on the globe, resulting from a non-recognizing and non-embracing of world-wholeness is far greater, far more vast, and far more ruinous than it was even for Wordsworth. And yet the concept is the same: The concept of oneness, unity, and harmony, the concept of all things being part of all things.

A term often used often by Levy in in this context is “nonlocal” or “nonlocality.” Here’s his description of it, in the glossary he provides for readers of Dispelling Wetiko (under the heading “Nonlocality”):

When something is said to be nonlocal, it is not bound or localized to one particular place or time, but on the contrary, transcends the conventional, three-dimensional rules of space and time. Nonlocal interaction is characterized by instant informational exchange, where one part of the universe, in no time whatsoever (i.e. outside of time), appears to interact with, affect, and communicate with another part of the universe in an immediate and unmediated way. Imagine, in baseball terminology, a throw from deep centerfield to home place, only the outfielder is halfway around the planet, and the ball takes zero seconds to arrive. The interaction involved in a nonlocal universe is not any known form of interaction we are familiar with, as it occurs infinitely faster than the speed of light can travel through the medium of space, while at the same time it doesn’t involve any expenditure of energy. Nonlocality’s action-at-a-distance is an expression of an underlying and outflowing information-filled field which connects and inextricably links every part of the universe with every other part in no time. In a nonlocal universe such as ours, no part of the universe is or can be fundamentally separate from any other part, which is to say that nonlocality is an expression of the indivisible wholeness of the universe. This linking, according to the quantum theoretician, Henry Stapp, could be the most profound discovery in all of science. To view the universe as consisting of separate parts is as off the mark as to view the little eddies and whirlpools that often form in a river as separate from the water. (Dispelling Wetiko, p. 315)

There’s more, a very great deal more, to be learned about this one-is-all and all-is-one universe that we live inside of. Once again, the fact that we don’t merely “live” but that we live inside of life, or inside of our universe is a fact of the utmost importance.

Why? Let Paul Levy explain. The author’s web site is called Awaken in the Dream, and at the very top of its home page Levy has posted this passage, written by himself and printed in a bright red:

“This universe is a mass shared dream that all seven billion of us are collaboratively dreaming up into materialization. When we realize this, we can put our lucidity together so that we can co-creatively dream a much more grace-filled universe into incarnation. This is nothing other than an evolutionary quantum leap in human consciousness, unimaginable until now.”

And so we arrive at the first fundamentals of Levy’s thinking. The very first fundamental: that life is a dream. The second fundamental: that the things that go on in our universe are “dreamed up” by us. And the third fundamental: that if we are able to wake up into these truths about ourselves, our universe, and our placement and existence inside it (inside the dream), then and only then can we begin doing a better or improved job of working and creating within the dream, thereby “dreaming a much more grace-filled universe into incarnation.”

The ideas in Paul Levy’s work are immense and immensely important, and there are admittedly moments now and then when they’re not easily or immediately graspable. But even in the midst of the greatest complexity, Levy strives for clarity—and, equally important, everything he writes is rooted in observation and experience of kinds recognizable—and available—to everyone. The sheer amount of work that he has produced is astonishing, as a glance at his web site will show, with its list of no fewer than seventy-seven articles on subjects ranging from alchemy to “our collective madness” and on to quantum physics. I’m going to quote at some length from the very first one, “Spiritual Emergence,” for its usefulness as an introduction to all that will follow:

In 1981 I was sitting in meditation when, just for an instant, a bolt of lightning flashed through my mind. I began acting so unlike my normal self that a friend brought me to a hospital, afraid I was going crazy. Though I was let out of that hospital after three days, the experiences that began to unfold were so overwhelming that I was hospitalized a number of other times during that first year. I was diagnosed as having had a severe psychotic break and was told that I had a chemical imbalance and had manic-depressive illness. I was put on lithium, and at times, haldol (an anti-psychotic). I was told I would have to live with my illness for the rest of my life.

I was one of the lucky ones, as I was able to extricate myself from the medical and psychiatric establishment. Little did the doctors realize that I was taking part in some sort of spiritual awakening/shamanic initiation process, which at times mimicked psychosis but in actuality was an experience of a far different order. In 1993, after many years of struggling to contain and integrate my experiences, I started to teach about what I was realizing. I am now in private practice, assisting others who were spiritually emerging and beginning to wake up to the dreamlike nature of reality. In a dream come true, psychiatrists consult with me and send me patients.

In ancient wisdom cultures it was understood that there were certain individuals whose craziness was the sign of a passage into a higher consciousness. They realized that the person needed to be both honored and supported in their process. They knew that the person who passes through this process successfully and becomes an accomplished shaman, healer, or teacher, returns bearing incredible gifts and blessings of wisdom and healing for everyone. To quote the noted author Ken Wilber “Though the temporary unbalance precipitated by such a crisis may resemble a nervous breakdown, it cannot be dismissed as such. For it is not a pathological phenomena but a normal event for the gifted mind in these societies, when struck by and absorbing the force of the realization of ‘something far more deeply infused’ inhabiting both the round earth and one’s own interior.”

What we’re seeing, then, and what Paul Levy saw decades ago (in his own experience), isn’t the sight of a person going crazy but, instead, of a person “going sane.” My own way of suggesting the phenomenon, as I’ve said, is by thinking of it as a person’s becoming aware that he or she is living inside the universe. For Paul Levy, it’s a matter, paradoxically, of “waking” into an awareness, first, of the dream-state or dream-nature of the universe; and, second, of our own existence in that dream; and, finally, of our towering responsibility, our unqualified obligation, to do all that we conceivably can to make it “more grace-filled.”

But if that’s really the situation, then a very great question immediately follows. If seven billion of us really are “collaboratively dreaming up” the universe in such a way as to cause it to become “more grace-filled,” then why does Levy tell us, in his third chapter (“Under a Collective Spell”), that “We are currently in the midst of the greatest epidemic sickness known to humanity,” [48] and that in point of fact “We are literally feeding and supporting our own genocide.” [47]

Indeed so. Very possibly the end of the line. It’s time for us now to meet “Wetiko.”

Let’s go back to Levy’s opening pages and quote him, again, at some length. This is from his Introduction, called “Close Encounters of the Wetiko Kind”:

I’ve been dreaming about this book since my first book, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis, came out in 2006. I’ve been wanting to elaborate and deepen my inquiry and articulation of the psychological disease that I wrote about in that book, but without having to reference or think about George W. Bush (what a relief!).

There is a psychospiritual disease of the soul that originates within ourselves and that has the potential either to destroy our species or to wake us up, depending on whether or not we recognize what it is revealing to us. In Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil, I pay homage to the way Native American traditions have long been tracking the very same psychic virus that I point to. Indigenous people’s articulation of the disease inspires all of us to track and bring into focus this elusive, non-local parasite of the mind. . . . By combining the Native tradition’s expression of this disease of the soul with my own articulation of this malady, based on personal experience, both our visions come into sharper clarity and focus. I look forward to many others adding their insights to the mix, so as to deepen our understanding and flesh out our course of action in response to this psychic plague more clearly.

Writing this book has helped me stay sane in a world gone mad. To quote the maverick psychiatrist R. D. Laing, “The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man . . . [sic] normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years.” Our species is clearly in the middle of a mass psychic epidemic, which I call “malignant egophrenia” and Native Americans call “wetiko.” [xvii]

And there you are. In a normal world, it would still be possible for each of us to awaken in the dream, to gain a consciousness of our place within that dream, and to do our part in causing it to be more grace-filled. But our world now, today—however much it may seem normal to most people—is far, far from normal and is, in fact, demonically, fatally, wretchedly sick, having been infected with nothing less than “The Greatest Epidemic Sickness Known to Humanity,” words that Levy used for the sub-title of his first book about Wetiko and that he uses again in declaring that “We are currently in the midst of the greatest epidemic sickness known to humanity.” [47]

Having brought us to this point in his courageous, unflinching, and monumental study (all the way to page 47 out of 320!), Levy carries us forward as if—well, as if he were a super-version of, say, a mountain goat bounding effortlessly onward from peak to peak to peak, carrying his readers as if weightlessly on his back. The stretch and reach of Levy’s mind, the process and the progress of his thinking as he clarifies and explains his thoughts, perceptions, and conclusions—these are like listening to a Beethoven not of symphonic music but of symphonic thought and observation.

Let’s follow him for just a few typical steps, beginning with the sentence we’ve already seen, “We are currently in the midst of the greatest epidemic sickness known to humanity.” [48] Levy continues:

Like a fish in water who doesn’t recognize water because it is everywhere, both outside and within the fish itself, many of us don’t realize the collective insanity in our midst, as our madness is so pervasive that it has become normalized. [emphasis added] We have become conditioned to accept as normal the fact that we are in an endless war [cf. Orwell’s 1984, EL], and innumerable of our brothers and sisters all over the planet are impoverished and dying of starvation every day. It is important to realize that in a psychic epidemic, the majority of people can appear entirely “normal.” The fact that the underlying psychic roots of the collective psychosis are not even part of our planetary dialogue is itself a telling expression of the depth of the unconsciousness induced by this psychic epidemic. [emphasis added]

Our madness is as imperceptible to us as water is imperceptible to a fish: It has become what we take to be normal. The murder, insanity, and ruin everywhere around us are as invisible to us as the air we breathe. The result is catastrophe.

It is as if the madness and horror, for example, of the United States’ having become the world’s chief aggressor-nation, of the United States’ having become today’s equivalent of Hitler, Caesar, or Alexander—it is as if this ritualized madness and horror of cold-blooded murderous power and of unparalleled, ruthless greed—it is as if this spectacle of brutal reality were of no more substantial importance than something on a television show, something produced and intended as an entertainment or passing trifle, a brief diversion that triggers no thought or recognition as to what such a thing really is. Murder, torture, greed, thievery, illegality, hypocrisy, lies, depredation—these trigger no irritant, scruple, or response in us that might cause us to take off the Wetiko-glasses we wear in order to look at, or see, them for what they really are.

Levy clarifies:

Our collective madness has become transparent to us, as we see and interpret the world through it, rendering our madness invisible, thereby unwittingly colluding with the collective psychosis while it wreaks incredible death and destruction on our planet. Being “trans-parent,” [sic] our madness is beyond its mere appearance, which is to say, “beyond being apparent,” that is, not visible. Our collective psychosis is invisible to us, as it manifests itself both in the very way we are looking and in the unspoken ways we have been conditioned to not perceive. Due to its cloak of invisibility, we don’t see our madness, a psychic blindness which renders us complicit in the creation of our own madness. This complicity is potentially empowering news, however, since it also signals that we are indeed co-creators of our own reality, and not helpless victims. [49]

Readers will note something curious about the closing sentence in this paragraph: After hearing from all that precedes it not only that we are insane, not only that we are incapable of seeing that we’re insane, but also that we ourselves are complicit “in the creation of our own madness.” After all that dreadful news, the final sentence turns around and tells us, in effect, that maybe the situation isn’t so bad, that maybe it’s even good.

This is not a misstep or mistake, as we’ll soon see in abundance—and as we’ve already been told by Levy himself, back in the second paragraph of his Introduction, where he wrote this: “There is a psychospiritual disease of the soul that originates within ourselves and that has the potential either to destroy our species or to wake us up, depending on whether or not we recognize what it is revealing to us.”

There’s no question whatsoever that Wetiko, or malignant ego-phrenia, is monstrous, awful, dreadful, and destructive. And there’s no question whatsoever that it is utterly insidiousness. Another paragraph:

Wetiko psychosis is highly contagious, spreading through the channel of our shared unconsciousness. Its vectors of infection and propagation do not travel like a physical pathogen, however. This fluidly moving, nomadically wandering bug reciprocally reinforces and feeds off and into each of our unconscious blind spots, [emphasis added] which is how it nonlocally propagates itself throughout the field. In wetiko there is a code or logic which affects/infects awareness in a way analogous to how the DNA in a virus passes into and infects a cell. [Jack D.] Forbes[i] concludes that “the wetiko disease, the sickness of exploitation, has been spreading as a contagion for the past several thousand years. And as a contagion unchecked by most vaccines, it tends to become worse rather than better with time. More and more people catch it, in more and more places, and they become the true teachers of the young.” Wetiko culture gets taught both at home and in “the academy,” where people become certified in the ways of its world, and are thus accredited and empowered to spread its corrupting ways on ever grander scales with ever vaster and more devastating consequences. Frighteningly, the wetiko psychosis is becoming ever more institutionalized and incorporated into our corporate culture and its way of thinking. [49]

And one more:

People who are channeling the vibratory frequency of wetiko align with each other through psychic resonance to reinforce their unspoken shared agreement so as to uphold their deranged view of reality. [emphasis added] Once an unconscious content takes possession of certain individuals, it irresistibly draws them together by mutual attraction and knits them into groups tied together by their shared madness that can easily swell into an avalanche of insanity. [49–50] [emphasis added]

A people poisoned by wetiko, and a people at the same time imprisoned in a state of blindness as to the very existence of the disease and infection that has control of them—this is a people of exactly the kind most perfectly suitable to the Big Wetikos, the “leaders,” that is, who “govern” a nation like the one ours has become. By its sheer insidiousness; by merit of its being so perfectly invisible to the very people who carry the virus and are consumed by it; by merit of the virus’s being so very pernicious—the “contagious collective psychosis” that results from it (a psychosis “in which we unwittingly become complicit in supporting the insanity of endless wars” [47]) appears to be a realization of a system of control-by-evil that’s even more monstrous, and even more monstrously perfected, than the systems long ago described, portrayed, and predicted by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.

There is an enormous and vitally important difference, however, as we will see, between the worlds of Orwell or Huxley on the one hand and our own world on the other, as it has been identified and revealed by Paul Levy, who explains that “The wetiko collective psychosis is a field phenomenon and needs to be contemplated as such.” He goes on:

The field itself is not a separately existing thing but a dynamically evolving living process in which we are all participating, simultaneously creating and being created by. The field has to do with relations per se, rather than the seemingly separate entities doing the relating. Instead of relating to any part of the field as an isolated entity, it’s important to contemplate the entire interdependent field as the “medium,” through which wetiko (as well as everything else, for that matter) is articulating itself. The underlying field can only be perceived and felt when we step out of our habitual viewpoint of imagining that we exist as a fixed reference point, a center of volitional action, a “time-bound ego,” and connect with our timeless, and nonlocal being, which ironically, can only be found in the present moment. This is to say that the doorway to seeing the field, and therefore wetiko, is to fully enter the present moment. The psychic epidemic known as wetiko needs to not [sic] be viewed through the lens of the fragmented and fragmenting separate self, which by its nature objectifies individual people, who are mistakenly thought to exist in isolation from the field, from each other, and from ourselves. To view a person as an object existing separately from the field is to fall under a diabolical illusion. Individuals are embedded in, pervaded by, and contained within the greater field—family system, society, and planetary culture—and are expressions of this multifaceted field. To begin to see wetiko disease, we need to cultivate a more holistic vision that recognizes the existence of a single interdependently co-arising field that pervades all manifest existence. [45–46]

In explaining that our collective psychosis as a “field phenomenon,” Levy emphasizes again the “one-is-all and all-is-one” nature of our universe. But this time he goes farther, continuing on to explain a related idea that’s called “dependent co-arising.” Among other things, this idea helps explain why it is that “To view a person as an object existing separately from the field is to fall under a diabolical illusion.” [emphasis added] Levy:

We are all collectively dreaming up the field while at the same time reciprocally being dreamed up by it, what Buddhism calls “dependent co-arising” (paticca samuppada—also translated as “interdependent co-origination”). Dependent co-arising is what the Buddha woke up to under the Bodhi tree. It is the aspect of Buddha’s impossible-to-describe-in-words enlightenment that can be expressed in conceptual terms. Dependent co-arising is not something created by Buddhas, but rather, is something that is continually re-discovered. It is the very condition of empirical reality. Dependent co-arising is not a final affirmation about reality, as it doesn’t seek to define a reality external to the observer, but rather, is a way of seeing that focuses on the process of how our experience of the world and ourselves arises. When asked by what authority he spoke, the Buddha would always cite the law of dependent co-arising; not any supernatural entity ruling our world, but the dynamics at work within our world. The Buddha said, “He who sees the Dharma [the truth, the way things are, the path, the law] [sic] sees dependent co-arising, and he who sees dependent co-arising sees the Dharma.” Dependent co-arising is not a belief or a theory to which one assents, but an insight that one is invited to experience and encouraged to win. Pointing to our interdependence with the entire universe, dependent co-arising illumines how we do not exist as discrete entities separate from the universe, but rather, in relation to other parts of the universe, which themselves don’t exist as isolated entities, but relationally as well. [46]

Our collective dreaming both creates and takes place in a universe all of whose parts, including those parts that are us, are “relational” and thus “do not exist as discrete entities separate from the universe” or from parts of the universe, all of which “exist . . . relationally as well.”

As remarkable and amazing as this “relational” situation will or may seem to many of us, Levy’s next three sentences show it to be still more remarkable and amazing. In these sentences, be on the alert for the powerfully important phrase “the truth of who we have discovered ourselves to be.”

This insight reveals that there is no fixed, substantially existing, self-established entity or reference point anywhere. To top everything off, the emptiness that dependent co-arising is an expression of is itself empty of an inherent nature, which leaves us nowhere to stand except in the truth of who we have discovered ourselves to be. Dependent co-arising is considered to be a milestone in human thought; its ever-deepening realization is one of the greatest and furthest-reaching cognitive revolutions of our time. [46]

All right, it’s time now to ask two questions: First, just exactly what are we, then? And, second, where are we? We know, at the least, from what Levy says, that we are not separate or discrete entities, no matter what else we may be. As for where we are, it would seem that we are everywhere.

Lacking any “fixed, substantially existing, self-established entity or reference point anywhere,” we have “nowhere to stand” except in one “place,” which is to say “in the truth of who we have discovered ourselves to be.”

Readers of Jean-Paul Sartre, for example, or of Albert Camus, or of Samuel Beckett, will be more familiar than others with the situation that’s being described here by Levy. To be in a state or inside a surrounding of nothingness and yet also to be in search of what one is—this is Hamlet’s situation, for example, or the situation of Didi and Gogo in Waiting for Godot—to be in such a state or place requires an absolute, complete, courageous, towering self-reliance. Help can come from nowhere other than from the self. And that self, like the one in the Wallace Stevens poem “The Snow Man,” has to be unflinching in order for that self to be “the listener, who listens in the snow, / And, nothing himself, beholds / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”[ii] [iii]

The requirement that one must not “behold” anything “that is not there” serves to make certain that the looker or listener not “see” or “imagine” something either in the universe or in the self that really isn’t there—God, for example, or goodness without concomitant evil, or the non-existent “Mr. Godot” whom Didi and Gogo endlessly wait for.

In our own present-day situation, however, something—a kind of serpent in the garden—has insinuated its way into the scene and has successfully destroyed the mechanism that earlier might have nurtured and protected the pure-sightedness of the looker or the undistorted hearing of the listener. This “serpent” is, of course, Wetiko, the psychic virus responsible for the onset of the collective psychosis we are now in the grip of and that jeopardizes our very survival, individually, nationally, and globally. Wetiko is evil and it rules by evil. Its method, at least in one sense, is simple: When it infects people it blinds them to the very fact that they are infected. For such people, any attempt to find “the truth of who we have discovered ourselves to be” is destined to fail. They are possessed by the evil wetiko, and the wetiko blinds them to the fact of that possession. They are blinded to the evil by the evil. Therefore, being blind to everything except what the wetiko allows them to see, they’re unable to “discover themselves to be” anything other than good, since they’re blind to all the rest. They are blind to the bad that’s in them, and as a result they are monstrous, blind to the atrocities, murders, and depredation that they programmatically bring about.

Possessing the insidious power of bringing about this kind of self-blindness and self-deception, wetiko would seem to be invincible, and human civilization would seem to be doomed to destruction by us, the inspired agents of wetiko.

We know that wetiko is insidious, powerful, and ruinous. But we have also been told that it can be an agent for good. What Paul Levy wrote in the second paragraph of the introduction to Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil is worth quoting again:

There is a psychospiritual disease of the soul that originates within ourselves and that has the potential either to destroy our species or to wake us up, depending on whether or not we recognize what it is revealing to us.

A collective psychosis driven and imbued by wetiko can have the appearance of being absolute, permanent, unalterable, and unapproachable. Levy describes the phenomenon:

A psychic epidemic is a closed system, which is to say that it is insular and not open to any new information or informing influences from the outside world which contradict its fixed, limited, and limiting perspective. In a co-dependent, self-perpetuating feedback loop, any reflection that is offered from others, rather than being reflected upon, utilized, and integrated in a way that supports the growth and evolution of the system, is perversely misinterpreted to support the agreed-upon delusion biding the collective psychosis together. Anyone challenging this shared reality is seen as a threat and demonized. An impenetrable field, like a protective bubble, is collectively conjured up around their shared psychosis that literally resists consciousness and perpetuates the spell-like trance of those in its thrall. There is no talking rationally. Using logic or facts, with someone under the spell of the psychic epidemic, as their ability to reason and to use discernment has been disabled and distorted in service to the psychic pathogen which they carry. [50]

Rational argument can’t reach the collective psychosis, partly because those in the psychosis can conceive of no alternate way of being or seeing, and partly because they will deny the presence of any madness or psychosis in them.

Here’s Paul Levy again:

The part of us that is colluding in the creation of a collective psychosis like wetiko is the part of us that is mad, for why else would we be doing this? To the extent we’re not fully awake, we each have a part of us that’s mad, which gets acted out in our life. How can we not have a part of us that’s mad, living in a world gone mad, a world that is not separate from but rather a reflection of ourselves? The part of us that thinks we don’t have a mad part is itself our mad part. [47] [emphasis added]

That paradoxical fact, that “the part of us that thinks we don’t have a mad part is itself our mad part,” can help us draw toward an understanding of how Levy is able to find any hope for good in our present maelstrom of collective psychosis. The necessary thing for us to do in order, first, to see evil—and then, having seen it, to become able to exert any kind of meaningful control over it—is, again, to recognize and understand that the inner self and the outer world are not discrete, distinct, and separate from one another but instead are fully intermingled and intertwined; and, further to understand that the human psyche is the source of events in the world. Only when able to set aside the untrue duality of inside and outside, inner and outer, can we begin to “see,” understand, and limit the insidious and pernicious ruinations of wetiko.

“The Origin of Wetiko Is the Psyche,” Levy heads one of his book sections. And what he writes in that section is important and revealing enough to deserve quoting:

The underlying source of what is playing out on the world stage is the unconscious psyche of humanity. Because of its obviousness, however, this fact goes unnoticed by most people. Just as a fish doesn’t see water, we tend to not see the primary role the psyche plays in our world because it is the psyche through which we see the world in the first place. [emphasis added] The psyche is simultaneously the object and subject of its own investigation. In observing the psyche, the observer is truly the observed; as we get deeper insight into our psyche, we uncover previously unknown and hidden parts of ourselves. The psyche is the essence of humanity, its greatest instrument, an indefinable, multidimensional creative entity of enormous scope, subtlety, and power that eludes all attempts to explain it, including this one. [68]

Once more, our universe is nonlocal, inter-relational, and holistic. Earlier, I quoted Levy saying this, but its importance deserves a repeat: “To view the universe as consisting of separate parts is as off the mark as to view the little eddies and whirlpools that often form in a river as separate from the water. (Dispelling Wetiko, p. 315)

Now, with an understanding of the nonlocal universe in place, we can more easily understand the extraordinary importance of this next line, bringing us closer to the point where we will be able to see wetiko and, in seeing it, be able to neutralize it. The line is this one:

In observing the psyche, the observer is truly the observed.

We are the world and the world is us. We are wetiko and wetiko is us. Just saying these truths, however, won’t necessarily make it easy to see them. If we’re going to get a grip on wetiko, if we’re going to control and manage it, we’ve first got to be able to see it, since only then can we, say, do with it as we would with a moldy rug, drag it into the sunlight in order to make the unwanted organism withdraw, shrink, and retreat. To “see” wetiko,” we need to be able to “see” the psyche, and that’s hardly easy. “The psyche becomes impossible to fully describe,” Levy continues,

because there is nothing, including the process of describing it, that is not “it” in action. When we use the word “psyche” we are alluding to the densest darkness and mystery it is possible to imagine. We know as little about what the psyche is as we know [about] what life is. The psyche is a substanceless substance, a true mystery filled with a living reality that, being weightless, is impossible to pin down. As such, to say the origin of wetiko lies in the psyche tells us very little other than pointing us in the right direction. [68–69]

Still, this is no reason to turn away from the psyche or give up on it.

Our culture tends to ignore and marginalize the psyche and its effects as if it doesn’t exist. Modern behaviorist psychology reduces psychological happenings to secretions of the glands or activities of the brain, there achieving the dubious distinction of a “psychology with the psyche.” [69]

Ignoring the psyche is just about the worst thing we can do:

It is becoming more and more evident that the greatest danger which threatens humanity comes from the psyche. Jung writes, “The world today hangs by a thin threat, and that thread is the psyche of man.” If we don’t understand the psychic roots of our current world crisis, we are doomed to unconsciously repeat it [i.e., the crisis, EL] and continually re-create endless destruction, as if we are having a recurring dream. Like an iteration of the same underlying fractal, the psychic forces that animated the totalitarian psychosis which engendered two world wars are still actively at work creating wars in our current day and age. [69]

The enormity, immediacy, horror, and sheer magnitude of the survival-endgame we now find ourselves confronting, or confronted by, can’t be overstated any more than its importance can be denied—and yet masses and masses of “us” remain blind to the truth of it, once again by merit of the error of “[viewing] a person as an object existing separately from the field,” as we heard Paul Levy say earlier [pp. 45–46]. In this, the present case of civilization’s endgame, the identical error causes us to “fall under” every bit as great a “diabolical illusion” as we may ever have fallen under before.

Levy describes how it comes about that we begin seeing ourselves as “existing separately from the field” and just how diabolical an illusion this is:

Just as a dream supplies all the evidence we need to confirm the seemingly objective truth of the viewpoint we are holding within it, once the sociopolitical insanity plays itself out in the form of war, we have all the proof we need that the conflict is outside of ourselves. It is then nearly impossible to convince anyone that the source of the conflict lies within the psyche of every individual. The psyche becomes exteriorized, as an internal psychic conflict then takes place by way of projection outside in the world in living flesh and blood. Most people don’t realize that wars are themselves full-bodied expressions of inner psychic processes being played out in the world theater. People prefer the most preposterous political, social, and economic theories, rather than recognizing that most wars are unmitigated psychic disasters. The events in our world are a thin skin wrapped around the enormous cosmos of psyche, which is to say that the material world is the illusory fringe both revealing and veiling the true reality, which is the underlying psyche that is informing what is happening in our world. [69]

Diabolic, indeed. War and cataclysm come into existence by means of the psyche, from the psyche, and from within the psyche—but then, as soon as the horrors exist in physical, external form, they’re taken as “all the proof we need that the conflict is outside of ourselves.”

The truth is, however, as Paul Levy points out, that “The future will be decided primarily by the changes that take place in the psyche of humanity, which is truly the world’s pivot.” [70] This truth, the human psyche as “the world’s pivot,” deserves clarification at more length:

What is currently playing out in the collective body politic is a process that has been gestating in the depths of the human psyche over millennia. The psyche is the underlying matrix, the infinite emptiness that is overflowingly full, the maternal womb out of which civilization—and its destroyer, war—are born. There has been a preparatory process going on within the human psyche over the history of our species that has unleased the very forces that are at work today in the world. The collective unconscious contains in potential the great collective events of the time; it is the cauldron in which history prepares itself. [emphasis added] World events are being cooked up in the crucible of the collective unconscious of humanity into living experiences. The psyche, pregnant with open-ended possibilities, is the very cipher in which the history of humanity is being written. We are the potential spiritual midwives for this process. All great movements of humanity have been born from psychical origins. [70]

With these further and remarkable observations about the universe that we are inside of and are part of, about the universe that we are not separate from, we begin to close in on the answer to the great, great question posed by Paul Levy—the question of how we can be, not destroyed by wetiko, but waked up by it, “depending on whether or not we recognize what it is revealing to us.” [xvii]

In a word, our collective psychosis is trying to talk to us; it is trying to tell us something. And, as Paul Levy puts it in one of the most remarkable sentences in his entire book, “We are simply asked to recognize what is being revealed.” [71]

To understand more clearly what is being revealed, not to mention how we can “recognize” it, we should back up a step or two. Levy explains that

Jung points out that “the totalitarian psychosis with its frightful consequences and the intolerable disturbance of human relationships is forcing us to pay attention to the psyche and our abysmal unconsciousness of it. Never before has mankind as a whole experienced the numen of the psychological factor on so vast a scale.” Jung is articulating that the psyche, in its full-blown numinosity, is manifesting in, as, and through our world crisis as if the psyche is a higher power. Just like the unconscious compensates a one-sidedness through the dreams it sends our way, the totalitarian psychosis that is playing out in the world today is the very compensatory form through which the psyche is trying to get our attention about the psyche’s profound importance. The totalitarian psychosis running rampant throughout the world today is the psyche’s way of revealing to us that we are forgetting the crucial role it plays in creating our experience. Marginalizing our own authorship and authority, we then dream up totalitarian forces to limit our freedom and create our experience for us. [71] [emphasis added]

It is as though at one and the same time the totalitarian psychotic monstrosity that we have created is trying, by its very horror and enormity, to make us realize our responsibility for having brought this exact condition about; and we, frightened, scared, and awed by what we see, immediately retreat into the urgent lie that it and we are in no way whatsoever connected with the horror—it’s outside of us—and that we cannot possibly have anything to do with having brought it about. We turn a deaf ear to the exact message the horror is trying to give us, namely, that we are the ones responsible for having brought it into existence, and, by a corollary, that there can’t conceivably be any melioration—or hope of survival—if we don’t recognize, see, and acknowledge our own psychic oneness with the unleased and created horror.

Levy continues:

Ours is an extremely dangerous time. Paradoxically, both the origin and the potential resolution of our world crisis are to be found within the psyche. It is high time for us to pay attention to the psyche’s role in human affairs. The veil is being lifted, and the integral role the human psyche plays in co-creating our world is being shown to us in bold relief through events unfolding in our world. Our collective psychosis itself is revealing to us the crucial role the psyche plays in informing and creating world events. Recognizing the psychic origin of what is playing out on the world stage is the very realization that the deeper, underlying psychic process is revealing to us. We are simply asked to recognize what is being revealed. [71] [emphasis added]

Again and again, we are admonished by Levy to understand and accept the fact that we live inside of the universe that we exist in, and that it, in turn, exists inside of us. An example:

To think that there is an objective universe is to be imagining that the universe is “not-I.” When we recognize the psychic origin of events in the world, we discover that the psyche is not solely within our skulls but rather, just like a dream, we are within the psyche. As with a dream, the core “inner” process of the psyche is revealing itself, literally as well as symbolically, in, as, and through events in the “outside” world. Trying to separate the inner from the outer or the psyche from matter is to deny the concrete existence of the soul. It is as if the inner reality envelops the outer, visible reality and the task of resuscitating the soul involves cultivating the respiration between the two. [73–74] [emphasis added]

The sheer beauty of such a notion of oneness, as I mentioned earlier, will be familiar to a variety of literary readers, or to others familiar, say, with Sufism or Gnosticism. We looked a ways back at Paul Levy’s glossary entry for “nonlocal,” and here we pick him up discussing nonlocality in regard to the psyche:

Because of the psyche’s nonlocality, it is as if there is only one world, where psyche and matter are the same thing. Trying to separate psyche from matter is as impossible as trying to separate the north and south poles of a magnet by cutting the magnet in half; the process itself generates a new north and south pole for each of the resulting halves. For psyche and matter to be inseparably united is just like being in a dream, where the apparent “matter” of the dream is a direct, unmediated reflection of the psyche that is dreaming.” [74–75]

Levy continues. Watch for the added emphasis:

A Buddhist teaching that is an equation or formulation for how we co-create reality with our dreamlike universe is “As a thing is viewed, so it appears,” which can be essentialized as “As Viewed, So Appears.” The phrase “As Viewed, So Appears” is pointing at, while simultaneously being an expression of, the dreamlike nature of our waking reality, in the sense that just like a dream, what we are perceiving is a projection and reflection of the mind that is looking. [75]

This, then, is what we are: We are ourselves looking out at ourselves looking in.

The depth, richness, complexity, and—I would say—the urgency, immensity, and sheer importance of Levy’s writing and thinking, considering that these have to do with nothing less than the great question of whether or not humanity can or will save itself from extinction—these qualities can be intimidating, but to make up for it, again and again, they are immensely exhilarating, salutary, and hope-giving.

In an article previously alluded to—“Quantum Physics: The Physics of Dreaming”—Levy, among a great number of other things, sets down the “elementary” notion of the relational world in quantum mechanics:

Quantum physics forever shattered the idea of there being an objectively existing world—it has proven that there is no such thing! It is ironic that physics, long considered the most “objective” of all the sciences, in pursuing its dedicated quest to understand the deep nature of the material universe, has dispelled the very notion of an objective universe. According to quantum theory, the idea of a world independent of our observation is a meaningless statement; it makes no sense whatsoever to talk about an objective as if it exists separate from our observation of it. Our perception of the universe is a part of the universe happening through us that has an instantaneous effect on the universe we are observing. Similarly, it makes no sense to think of ourselves as a self-enclosed, encapsulated independent agent existing separate from the universe. Quantum theory has opened up the door to a profoundly new vision of the cosmos, where the observer, the observed and the act of observation are inseparably united.

Elsewhere in this article, Levy touches again on the same idea but does so in such a way as to make absolutely clear what seems, to me, the crucial point of utmost importance not only in “The Physics of Dreaming” but in the entirety of Dispelling Wetiko. What is this idea? Again, it is the idea that human beings alone have the ability—and the responsibility, and the opportunity—to prevent the end of life on our planet or, on the other hand, to enhance and preserve it.[iv]

The passage is crucial to an understanding of what we must—and must not–do:

Perceptions which subscribe to the inherent existence of the physical world feed back and strengthen the tendency to perceive the world in this same way in the future, as well as making it more likely that the world will continue to appear “as if” it is inherently existing. If we buy into the perspective that the world objectively exists in and by itself, we have then fallen under a self-created and self-perpetuating spell, evoking evidence that simply confirms our original unexamined assumption. [emphasis added] This is a process in which our mind’s own genius for co-creating reality is unwittingly turned against us in a way that can severely limit us, stifling the awareness of our options and thus crippling our greater potentials. We can become imprisoned by our belief in the objective truth of our perceptions in such a way that we hypnotize ourselves and literally become blind to our imprisonment [emphasis added], remaining convinced that we are simply “in touch with reality.”

How to proceed in achieving sightedness? Learning how to perceive synchronicities is an essential step. Levy explains:

Periods of disturbance and distress in our world are a manifestation of and catalyst for a corresponding self-regulating and healing archetype in the collective unconscious of humanity to draw to itself and self-organize everything it needs to synchronistically render itself visible and operative in the world of form. Synchronicities occur at times of deep archetypal excitation in the field, which is to say that in moments of crisis, transition, creative tension, and dynamic intensity, the boundary between the worlds can become transparent, so that synchronistic events can more easily manifest. [76]

We may be uneasy with the concept of synchronicities, but that’s due, again, to our habitual way of “seeing,” or, a person might say, of “see-thinking” or “think-seeing”:

What makes the phenomenon of synchronicity so baffling is our culturally unquestioned assumption of and ingrained belief in the sovereign power of linear causality. Not derivable from any known antecedents, synchronicities are acausal creative acts, springing from the continuous re-creation and re-presentation in time of an archetypal pattern that exists outside of time. They are the eternal presence-ing of the one creative act, revelations of the act of creation itself. For there is, indeed, only one Creation, but instead of being an event that accorded once in the distant past, it recurs perpetually, from instant to instant. [76]

Time itself, creation itself, possesses an organic quality of ever-existence once “inner” and “outer” are unified rather than dualized. With the removal of “culturally unquestioned” “illusory boundaries,” it becomes possible to “see” spiritually:

The archetypal, synchronistic realm vaporizes illusory boundaries—revealing spirit—and builds bridges which mediate and connect the inner and the outer, the conscious and the unconscious, and dreaming and waking. Synchronicities do not happen objectively, outside of ourselves, but are phenomena that we are co-creating and actively participating in—which is the very fact that synchronicities themselves are revealing to us. [76–77]

The result is nothing less than a transformation, and a transference, of power.

“Recognizing the mysterious, synchronistic correlation between what is occurring in the world and what is happening without our own minds empowers us to become dynamic transformative agents in our world” [77] [emphasis added]

The over-arching aim is to prevent wetiko from destroying us and the world, which is to say the over-arching aim is to prevent ourselves from destroying ourselves and the world—and what better first step in this great undertaking than for us to become “dynamic transformative agents [for good] in our world,” to find ourselves in control of good rather than passive victims of evil?

Achieving such a change is difficult, subtle, and complex—and yet it is also essential if we are to survive (by controlling it) the immensity of the evil that, by having infected us, exerts its effects through us.

Simply put, we’ve got to learn to see what we’re doing if survival is going to be in the cards at all.

Follow closely. This isn’t easy, but it’s radically and vitally important:

As soon as we realize that the world is steeped in our projections, our relationship to our world begins to change radically, and we no longer unconsciously react to our projections as they appear in the world, imagining them to exist objectively, as separate from ourselves. By consciously recognizing ourselves in the world, we become enabled to work and play with our projections in a way that serves us, instead of allowing our projections to play with our minds.

That “the world is steeped in our projections” means that the world is “colored” by our thinking about it and looking at it just as a pot of water is colored by the tea that’s steeped in it. Once we realize these extraordinary facts, that “the world is steeped in our projections” and that we are the creators of it, then we no longer need to react only passively (that is, “unconsciously”) to those projections “as they appear in the world.” Our projections cause the world to be the way it is, but if we continue to think that these projections are “separate from ourselves,” if we continue to think that they exist outside of us instead of inside of us (and therefore also inside of the world that we in turn live inside of)—if we continue to think that we and our projections are separate from one another, we will necessarily remain passive victims of that “world,” remaining helpless in the face of its atrocities. On the other hand, once we “consciously [recognize] ourselves in the world,” we can “become enabled to work and play with our projections in a way that serves us, instead of allowing our projections to play with our minds.”

In other words, by seeing beyond or through the imagined separation between inner and outer, we become able to engage with the world—its good and its evil—rather than merely experiencing the world in its “pre-prepared” form, suffering it rather than being able to “work” or engage with it.

Equally important, as Levy goes on to explain, only by escaping from the habit-formed and imaginary separation of inner from outer can we “see” wetiko and thereby gain any defense against it. Levy writes:

It is when we view the outer physical world as distinct from our psyche that we risk exposure to that inner sickness of the soul, wetiko; for one of wetiko’s unique ploys is to take advantage of the fact that there is no actual boundary between the inner and the outer, between dreaming and waking, and ultimately, between self and other. Wetiko can easily trick and deceive us by materializing itself in, as, and through the medium of the outside world, which we assume is distinct from our psyche. [77] [emphasis added]

Believing that inner and outer are unrelated or separate from one another is a form of blindness. It is an “unsightedness” both to the actual interconnected nature of inner and outer and to the actual interconnected nature of psyche and “outside world.” Wetiko makes quick use of such blindness to sneak past the drugged and sleeping guards that should be on alert but aren’t, in order to infiltrate our minds, seize power, and spread evil throughout the outside world, knowing full well that we—blind as bats in our habitual and unexamined dualism that conditions us to see inner and outer as separate and unrelated—knowing full well that we will “accept” the evil, believing that there’s nothing whatsoever that we can do about it, and believing that we have nothing whatsoever to do with its having come into existence, even though we ourselves are the creators of it.

We need to get well and regain our sightedness or we will lose our lives, planet, and world.

Wetiko is nothing if not sly. Levy continues:

Appearing external to ourselves, wetiko utilizes the seemingly outside world as the canvas for its full-bodied revelation of itself. [Unlike us,] wetiko doesn’t acknowledge or abide by the spurious subject-object dichotomy, acting itself out free from these constraints. Wetiko nonlocally informs, gives shape to, and configures events in the world so as to synchronistically express itself; thus, events in the outer world symbolically express an inner psychological situation, just as in a dream [77]

It becomes perfectly clear that if we continue to fail to “awaken in the dream,” or if we continue to fail to “wake up into the fact of the dream,” we are necessarily doomed. Our blindness to the true nature of wetiko—which is to say, our blindness to our madness—may become clearer now if we look back again at a passage we looked at earlier, complete with its guardedly optimistic final sentence:

Our collective madness has become transparent to us, as we see and interpret the world through it, rendering our madness invisible, thereby unwittingly colluding with the collective psychosis while it wreaks incredible death and destruction on our planet. Being “trans-parent,” [sic] our madness is beyond its mere appearance, which is to say, “beyond being apparent,” that is, not visible. Our collective psychosis is invisible to us, as it manifests itself both in the very way we are looking and in the unspoken ways we have been conditioned to not perceive. Due to its cloak of invisibility, we don’t see our madness, a psychic blindness which renders us complicit in the creation of our own madness. This complicity is potentially empowering news, however, since it also signals that we are indeed co-creators of our own reality, and not helpless victims. [49]

Levy returns to this reason for optimism. If we end our unsightedness, if we awaken in the dream, if we break away from not seeing our own world-creating psyche in the “outside” world that we live inside of, only then will we be able to see either psyche or wetiko. Thinking of inner and outer as separate, distinct, and unrelated to one another, Levy calls a “literal” way of seeing. Thinking of inner and outer as wholly and entirely inter-related, as being one and the same thing, he calls a “symbolic” way of seeing. Hence:

Wetiko can be “seen” when we snap out of our literal way of interpreting our experience and start seeing with symbolically informed awareness. At the same time wetiko itself can become the impetus for expanding our consciousness and recognizing that the world is an oracle, a living primordial revelation of itself that continuously unfolds, speaking symbolically, in the language of dreams. Without wetiko, we wouldn’t have had this realization, which is to say that wetiko is a potential blessing in the very convincing disguise of a curse. [77]

And he continues, itemizing the benefits of “seeing with symbolically informed awareness:

Realizing the dreamlike nature of reality collapses the boundary between spirit and matter, as matter has become “spiritualized” (blessed) and spirit has become “materialized” (incarnate). The magnum opus of alchemy[v] involves freeing the spirit that is considered to be imprisoned in matter. This is analogous to freeing the part of ourselves embedded and trapped in the mind of dogma, of materialism, and of viewing things literally (as “nothing but”), instead of metaphorically and symbolically. This is to step out of linear-mindedness into the realization that the universe is an interactive, acausal feedback loop—truly a work in progress. [78]

Levy, then, has brought us at last to the point where we can see the disease, can observe and understand the “psychic pathogen” of wetiko, and to the point where we can understand the profound truth that within this wily and hideously infectious disease is carried also its own antigen. The matter of actually putting this antigen to use, however, remains our own responsibility. If we are to be saved from the ravages and the sure destruction of the present psychosis, we will have to do the work ourselves:

Recognizing the dreamlike nature of our situation creates a living antibody made out of awareness itself [emphasis added] that is custom-designed to neutralize the psychic pathogen of wetiko. This is to say that encoded within the deadly pathology of wetiko is an insight and revelation containing its own cure. Its own self-revelation, wetiko disease provides its own psychic medicine, but in order to receive its healing “benefits” we have to recognize and deeply understand this miracle in psychospiritual health care.

How amazing—the very thing that is potentially destroying us is at the same time waking us up! A potential catalyst for our evolution as a species, we are all co-creating and dreaming wetiko up together. Wetiko is a truly quantum phenomenon, in that it is the deadliest poison and the most healing medicine co-joined in one superposed state. Will wetiko kill us? Or will it awaken us? Everything depends upon our recognizing what it is revealing to us. The prognosis for wetiko/malignant egophrenia depends upon how we dream it. [78] [emphasis added]

How bad is wetiko? All we need to do is look around us to know the full panoply and extent of the horror.

Levy explains that

Wetiko disease is a self-devouring operating system that leaves nothing unmolested. It is a living death sentence that, if left unchecked, destroys everything within its dominion, including itself. Wetiko psychosis ensures that everything is sacrificed on its altar of death and destruction. Full-blown wetikos are “necrophiles”; their impulses are perversely directed against life—whose spontaneity they fear—and toward death and destruction, to which they are secretly attracted. [150]

And that

From a galactic perspective, our planetary so-called civilization is a living, virulent, and metastasizing outbreak of wetiko psychosis that is threatening to destroy not only its human host but also the entire biosphere which make life on earth possible as well. Wetiko’s ravenous, voracious, rapacious hunger will cause it to literally eat everything, including, finally, itself. [Jack D.] Forbes[vi] writes, “The rape of a woman, the rape of a land, and the rape of all people, they are all the same. . . . [sic] Brutality knows no boundaries. Greed knows no limits. Perversions know no borders. Arrogance knows no frontiers. Desire knows no edges. These characteristics all tend to push toward an extreme, always moving forward once the initial infection sets in.” [151]

And that

The monster of ever-expanding imperialism, exploitation, plundering, and profiteering is the most diabolically evil form of wetiko’s cannibalism. A “front” for the underlying wetiko virus, the military-industrial-criminal complex, with its ultimately self-destructive, intrinsic need for endless wars to feed greed-driven expansion, is like a systematic runaway in cybernetic theory. [150]

And that

Like the virus of evil insinuating itself into the soul in incremental, unnoticed and insidious steps, at a certain point this leukemia of the soul becomes irreversible, inevitably leading to its host’s destruction. The wetiko virus’s pathogenic effects within an individual are a microcosmic fractal iteration of the collective, macrocosmic dynamics of the disease; how wetiko works within each of us is synchronistically mirrored with stunning perfection in how it plays out throughout the greater body politic. [151]

And that

Unchecked by a psychic vaccine, the disease, like an addiction running rampant, is progressive and is thus getting worse over time. Forbes writes, “The wetikos destroyed Egypt and Babylon and Athens and Rome and Tenochtitlan and perhaps now they will destroy the entire earth. But neither the ‘junkie’ looking for money for a shot of heroin nor the capitalists destroying Amazonian forests for big profits are able to stop their own destructive behavior.” Wetikos can’t help themselves. Suffering from a compulsion to destroy, if left to themselves they are unable to stop their suicidal behavior. The Chinese Book of Changes, the I Ching, says of “evil” that it “inevitably destroys itself in the end.” Having lost their internal freedom, people taken over by wetiko are singularly lacking in options. Wetikos are as blinded to their own cure as they are oblivious to their own sickness. It is helpful to remember that the evil we see in those afflicted with wetiko is a reflection of ourselves.[151–152]

In short, wetiko is overwhelmingly destructive, blindly and insanely malevolent, world-killing if unchecked. But then, too, at the same time, it is also wily, foxy, and insidious.

Levy remarks (p. 173) that the situation is not that we have wetiko, but the situation is that wetiko has us. This is similar to his commenting, elsewhere, that “When we become taken over by the daemonic energy of wetiko, we are then compelled, as if taken over by a whirlwind, to act out its destruction in the world.” [65]

And when this happens, when people are “taken over” by wetiko, their insanity is so water-tight, so shrewd, and so self-confident and so self-assured that it is impervious to any influence of sanity. Levy writes:

Bewitched by the intrinsic projective tendencies of their own mind, as if standing on their head and living in an upside-down world, full-blown wetikos are unconsciously doing the very thing they are reacting to and accusing other people of doing. While projecting the shadow [of their own evil] onto others, for example, they will accuse others of projecting the shadow onto them. To use an extreme but prototypical example, it is like someone screaming that you’re killing them as they kill you. If their insanity is reflected back to them, they think it is the mirror that is insane. Suffering from a form of psychic blindness that believes itself to be sightedness, full-blown wetikos project out their own unconscious blindness and imagine that others, instead of themselves, are the ones who are blind. [65–66]

There is, then, no possible way to reach, neutralize, or disarm a full-blown wetiko. Levy explains that

Wetikos subscribe to a world where true is false and facts make no difference, a world based on a convoluted, flawless illogic, a logic of the nonsensical, a truly deadly logic that is a counterlogic to the Logos. [66]

And, possibly most horrifying of all, especially if one thinks of our own national, military, and economic “leadership” as consisting of full-blown wetikos:

No guilty afterthoughts can enter their psyche, because the terror that rules them constrains them to follow a logic antithetical to conscience. [66]

Full-blown wetikos, then, can’t be touched, stopped, challenged, neutered, tamed, humanized, reformed, or controlled.

But. And this is an immense, hope-giving, game-changing, cosmically important qualifier, this simple little word “but.” What follows “but” is this: But we, the legions of us who aren’t yet “full-blown” wetikos but who do nevertheless have wetiko within us—we can touch, stop, challenge, neuter, tame, humanize, reform, or control our wetiko and hence also wetiko everywhere.

Levy’s explanation is typically subtle, accurate, and telling:

No one can see archetypal evil, which being nonlocal, has more breadth and depth than merely personal evil, and stay untouched. . . . When we see evil “out there,” our own evil is activated by the experience. For example, when we see evil, if we react with moral indignation, cocksure of our own innocence and righteousness, this is an expression that we have become infected by the very evil to which we are reacting. . . . It is impossible to encounter wetiko and not be activated, as wetiko’s nonlocal force field is activating by its very nature, in that it is co-extensive and interwoven with our own. [156–157] [emphasis added]

There is no way, for any of us, to escape wetiko, just as there is no way for any of us to escape possessing the Jungian shadow, which is to say, there is no way for any of us to escape our own internalized evil. In the case of wetiko, Levy picks up where the previous quotation ended and explains as follows:

Our unconscious, kneejerk reactivity is the primary way that the wetiko psychosis regenerates and propagates itself in the field. Like a pathogen invading a body, this virulent psychic bug strikes and hooks us through the weakest point in our unconscious, the most tender and vulnerable spot within ourselves through which we are most likely to react. [157]

Levy goes on to explain what is in fact our only course of action if we hope to subjugate—or integrate—wetiko:

Seeing evil triggers a resonant darkness within us, as if we have secretly realized a part of ourselves. We could not look at the face of evil and truly see it unless we have that very same evil within ourselves; we wouldn’t be able to recognize it otherwise. It is then a question of whether we can integrate what has been triggered in us, or whether we inwardly dissociate from our own darkness, imagining it to be separate from ourselves, and project the evil “out there” onto some “other,” starting the cycle all over again. [157]

Everyone contains wetiko; no one alive is immune to it or free of it. But with luck, awareness, rigorous thought, and careful introspection, it’s possible to integrate wetiko into the whole self, possible to make it something that consciousness can see, and therefore to make it a part of the self that can be balanced with the other elements of the whole self.

Levy explains:

One of the most beautiful teachings in Buddhism is called the “Lion’s Gaze.” The following example is given as an illustration: If you throw a stick at a dog, the dog runs after the stick; but if you throw a stick at a lion, the lion will chase after you! The stick represents an uncomfortable negative emotion that gets triggered inside us. When we are triggered—when something “pushes our buttons”—it activates an unconscious, compulsive knee-jerk reflex. Running after the stick like a dog, indulging in and “acting out” the negative emotion, means that we put our attention outside of ourselves. This is to relate to what is triggering us in the outside world as “the problem” instead of looking inward at the source. If only what was triggering us in the outside world would stop, we tell ourselves, we would feel better and the problem would be solved. But if we have the “gaze of the lion,” we turn our gaze within when we are triggered and treat the moment as an opportunity to self-reflect, looking at whatever it is within us that has been activated. The lion is not afraid to go to the source of the trigger, which is never outside but always within ourselves. Assuming the fearless gaze of the lion, we relate to the triggering situation as a gift, as it has helped us access a part of ourselves that up until now has been unconscious, and hence hidden. [157–158]

“The lion,” Levy points out, “is not afraid to go to the source of the trigger, which is never outside but always within ourselves.” To stand even a chance of taming, challenging, or controlling wetiko, we first need to know where to look, before we even begin. Levy is absolutely clear about this:

Just as the way to cut off the head of the mythic Medusa is to look at her reflections in the mirror-shield, the way to stalk the vampiric entity of wetiko is to track and sense its fingerprints within ourselves by looking into the mirror of our own mind. The evil of wetiko can be too much to stare at directly, however, just as looking at the snake-haired Medusa turns us to stone. Vampires are “petrifying,” which means both “terrifying,” as well as “paralyzing” and “turning to stone.” They petrify their victim, Just as a mouse becomes immobilized by the transfixing gaze of the serpent. Vampires are not creatures to be messed with by the frivolous. Evil has its divine depths into which it is irreverent to look directly; its power needs to be respected. In indigenous cultures, objects that “reflect” are thought to magically drive away evil spirits, as if the object that mirrors evil throws the harmful rays back upon its source. This expresses in symbolic terms the archetypal idea that the act of reflection safeguards against the powers of evil. Another symbolic protection against evil in cultures that were still in touch with the magical level of reality were sacred art objects called “fear masks.” The faces of these masks were horrifyingly distorted and evil-looking, and were thought to reflect back upon the demon its own image, an image from which it flees in terror. This is to say that when we reflect upon the demon, it ceases to bother with us, as then it must deal with itself. Self-reflection is not only the most beneficial response to evil, it is in fact the only response where we have any real influence of control. The Big Wetikos have no real power or control over the sanctity and sovereignty of a truly self-reflective mind. [158–159] [emphasis added]

As he has told us before, Levy explains:

The way to “responsibly” (which connotes the “ability to respond”) engage with wetiko disease is to (at)tend to what it triggers within us. [p. 157] [emphasis added]

We—humanity—are caught up in a collective psychosis, providing plentiful indication that we are demonstrably mad. Yet at the same time, we—humanity—are the sole thing in all existence that can be depended on for any hope of survival. On the one hand, “We are clearly destroying ourselves.” [190] Yet on the other, “It is as if we ourselves are potentially the Messiah for whom we have been waiting.” [187]

I cheated a little bit in that paragraph. Yes, Paul Levy does say, on p. 190, “We are clearly destroying ourselves.” Yet immediately following that sentence, he adds this one:

Yet, in this act of self-destruction, something is being revealed to us. [emphasis in original]

There is a chance for survival. And, if survival is going to take place, we are the ones who will have to bring it about, no other force, being, essence or power. Therefore, let’s see what the “something” is that’s being revealed to us. And then let’s consider the odds of our ever being able to take advantage of it.

Levy explains that “We can contemplate humanity as a single individual, and view its history as a dream it is having that is being performed on the world stage, revealing the inner condition of its psyche.” Right here and now, at our “moment” on earth, with humanity contemplated as a single individual, something very big is taking place:

In our current day and age we are experiencing an irruption of the unconscious itself, a huge upheaval of titanic forces which have been lying dormant in the collective unconscious. As if we are experiencing a second “Great Flood,” the powers of the unconscious are ready to break through all moral barriers and burst the dams. In our modern world the unconscious, instead of being in the background, is coming to the foreground, and is forcing us to turn one eye inward upon it. The unconscious is coming whether we like it or not! Like Noah, we must build an “Ark,” that is, a psychic container, if we are to survive. [182–183]

Part of our great trouble is that this enormous irruption, which was meant “to be a compensation,” is not being seen by us and thereby is not being integrated by us into our whole self. Thus:

Just as in a dream, this upheaval in our modern-day world of dormant forces emerging from the unconscious was meant to be a compensation, but because it is not being recognized as such and thereby not integrated, it manifests, as we are seeing today, as the worldwide wetiko collective psychosis. Those of us who are waking up to the dreamlike nature of reality can be the compensatory agents, the “human anti-psychotics” within the greater body politic which is currently having a collective nervous breakdown. [183]

The “compensatory agents” are those, like the learned, dedicated, and extraordinary Paul Levy himself, who see and understand that the “inner” and the “outer” are one and the same and who are capable practitioners of what Levy calls “self-reflection.” “The only thing that really matters now,” he writes, “is whether humanity can climb up to a higher moral level through self-reflection and be able to evolve into a more expanded state of consciousness in order to mediate the superhuman powers that the dark God has placed in our hands. Jung comments, ‘If—and this is the great question—he has today acquired enough consciousness to keep up with the furious pace of the devil within him.’” [192–193]

The huge, vital, essential importance of “self-reflection” can’t be overstated:

If ever there was a time when the turning inward of self-reflection was of critical importance, it is now, in our present catastrophic epoch. Self-reflection, an act in which we recognize ourselves in the mirror of life, is a bending of consciousness back upon itself, a privilege born of and intrinsic to human freedom, in contradistinction to the compulsion of the demonic. In the moment of self-reflection, the psychospiritual necessity for evolutionary growth overrules the biological compulsion of unreflective animal instinct. Though an ego is needed for its actualization, reflective awareness occurs not by the will of the ego, but by the promptings to individuation originating from the Self. Self-reflection is a genuinely spiritual act, which is, essentially, the act of becoming conscious. In alchemy, the work is considered to be brought to perfection by reflection; the essence of reflection is to understand what we have previously not understood. The attitude of self-reflection returns us to the ground of our deepest being, connects us to our destiny, and it begins a cure for the pervasive psychological and spiritual blindness which reigns at the present hour. . . .

. . . . The instinct toward self-reflection, or what amounts to the same thing, the urge to individuation, is a true retrieval of our soul. It has an integrating effect, as it gathers together and re-collects what had previously been projected out, dis-owned, divided, and separated by the dis-integrating effects of evil. Genuinely lasting gain is a direct result of broadened reflection. The true leaders of society are typically not the political leaders, but those relatively few individuals who are capable of sustained self-reflection. [193] [emphasis added]

Levy, in referring to “the archetypal realm,” reminds us again of the oneness of us all: “The act of self-reflection activates a process of transformation in the archetypal realm, which results in the Incarnation of God through humanity, that is, the light of consciousness is born.” [194]

He goes on in the same vein, this time using the extraordinary metaphors of “conduits” and of the “aperture”:

If we can speak in such human terms, whoever knows an aspect of God has an effect on God, similar to the way becoming aware of the unconscious transforms the unconscious. In essence, humanity is the aperture through which God makes Itself known and real in time. We are the eyes through which God sees Itself from the outside, thus becoming conscious of Itself. Not merely the “subjects” of our inner process, we become the “objects” of a deeper, mythic, archetypal, and divine process that is incarnating through us. We are the conduits through which the universe, in becoming consciously aware of itself, is waking itself up.[vii] Self-reflection is therefore the best service we can do for ourselves and the world, as well as being the highest way for us to serve and love God. It should get our highest attention that wetiko disease is the very catalyst and inspiration for our self-reflection. [194]

Yet again, the point has to do with the survival of the race and the world, and Levy’s studied optimism is almost breath-taking:

Catastrophe can only be avoided if enough people wake up to what is being revealed to us as we act out the unconscious destructively, and the connect and cooperate with each other in new ways so as to creatively de-activate, assimilate, and transform the potentially deleterious effects of the activated daemon. We can then, under the guidance of the Self, more fully incarnate our intrinsic wholeness, as we help each other to usher in a new era of sustainable peace, understanding, and mutual cooperation. [194–195]

The all-important “Self” that pertains in this case, the “Self” that will “more fully incarnate our intrinsic wholeness,” is not the self of you or me or the person next door, each with phone number and address, but it is the archetypal self that Levy was referring to when he wrote, “We can contemplate humanity as a single individual, and view its history as a dream it is having that is being performed on the world stage, revealing the inner condition of its psyche.” [182] It is this self that he refers to both in the phrase “our intrinsic wholeness” and again when he says that “we can connect with other parts of ourselves who are also waking up in the dream”:

Just like becoming lucid in a dream en masse, we can connect with other parts of ourselves who are also waking up in the dream, and realize that we can put our lucidity together so as to change the shared waking dream we are having. Imagine that! Our continued existence as a species on this beautiful planet depends upon our imagining, participating in, and embodying this realization in our lives. [195]

All good—but a great question remains, and that question is whether we can really do it. Even with direction, guidance, and help from the likes of Paul Levy; even with the extraordinary amounts of learning, experience, knowledge, encouragement—not to mention eloquence—that he brings to the entire matter, is it really possible that enough of “us” can respond in the ways being shown as necessary in order to bring about the condition that our collective psychosis can be seen, and thereby responded to and meliorated?

Can we, in short, change the very concept—and the prevailing concept—of who each of us is, and of what our “self” is?

In his tenth chapter, “Stepping Out of Separation,” Levy describes the actual situation we all share—as opposed to the situation as conventionally thought of:

The in-spirit-ed organism of wetiko is a field phenomenon, and can only be seen when we snap out of the illusion of imagining we exist as a separate self and recognize and become conversant with the deeper underlying and more fundamental nonlocal field in which we are all indissolubly interconnected. The field is the intersection of the collective unconscious and each individual’s personal subjectivity; it is “in between” these two, while being the same as neither yet including both. In modern physics, the field—the invisible organizing principle of the universe—has become more fundamental that matter.[viii] “The field,” as Einstein once succinctly put it, “is the only reality.” It bears repeating: instead of relating to any part of the field as an isolated entity, it’s important to contemplate the entire interdependent field as the “medium” through which wetiko manifests itself. The Native American concept of wetiko disease is a social phenomenon, a relational dynamic of the field itself that cannot be understood, and does not exist in isolated individuals apart from the social milieu in which they move, interact, and have their being. For social creatures such as ourselves, self-identity is never simply given; it is forged in the crucible of interaction with others. Seeing the nonlocal field drives a stake into the very heart of the prevailing scientific, materialistic perspective, which ironically enough, still attempts to see the world as “machine.” [171]

The legacy of what Levy means by the “scientific, materialistic perspective” is long and powerful, coming to us from Aristotelian antiquity up to Newton, Descartes and the Age of the Enlightenment. Most of us are almost wholly indoctrinated into thinking of the self, and of the world we all live in, as being most accurately and habitually understood through relationships of the kind suggested by dualities like “inner or outer,” “here or there,” “up or down,” “part or whole,” and even “all or nothing.” Jungian psychology, however, parts from dualistic habits or strictures like these, as does quantum physics, and also central tenets of Buddhism and eastern thought, areas that Paul Levy has studied at length and been influenced by deeply.

None of which may make it any easier for the average person to undertake, or hope to succeed with, a repudiation of dualism.[ix] Levy suggests the nature and importance of such a change:

Seeing the field, and stepping out of the perspective that we are separate from each other, converges into being the same experience. Seeing “through” the illusion of the separate self, rather than seeing “through the separate self” as a lens through which we view the world, entails recognizing that even the full-blown Big Wetikos are fully embodying, in personified form, a pathological tendency that exists in potential within ourselves. Their madness is truly a reflection of our own. It is as if they are the externalized materialization of this potential within ourselves that we’ve projected outside of ourselves and collectively dreamed up into manifestation. Recognizing this generates compassion for this part of ourselves. It is only through compassion that we immunize ourselves from the virus. [172] [emphasis added]

The dualistically conceived “separate self” is both powerless and blind. It can neither see wetiko, nor, by detriment of its not conceiving itself as part of the field, can it exert, or dream, its influence for melioration or good.

Wetiko is inside each of us, but only the “self” that is part of the field will be able to see it, know that It’s there, or do anything about or with it.

Levy says more on the subject of wetiko being in all of us:

Holographically enfolded within the psyche of every human being, the wetiko virus pervades and underlies the entire field of consciousness, and can therefore potentially manifest through any one of us at any moment if we are not mindful. Who among us has not been guilty of being a channel for the evil of wetiko at one time or another? Who among us has not fallen asleep and unwittingly acted out our unconscious in a way that was hurtful to others or to ourselves? Unlike Big Wetikos, most people simply incarnate the disease locally, within our personal sphere of influence, which is usually our family system and within our own minds. We’ve all had our “wetiko moments.” That’s just the way it works. Recognizing this cultivates humility, which helps to psychically immunize us from the pernicious effects of the disease. This realization ultimately collapses the boundary between those who have the disease and those who don’t. Wetiko’s nonlocal nature makes the question of who has the disease irrelevant, as we all have it to varying degrees, or more accurately, it has us. We are all in the soup together, which is an insight that engenders compassion. This realization means that we can’t blame anyone else—on the one hand, we alone are intimately responsible for our experience of ourselves, while at the same time, there’s nothing else to do but to forgive. This does not mean, however, that the Big Wetikos are not ethically, spiritually and legally [sic] responsible for the unimaginable carnage they cause. [173]

And he then explains that “the presumption of the separate self” is not merely an insignificant personal option of a harmless kind, but that it is in fact a presumption that becomes the equivalent of a doorway standing wide open to ruin, an irresistible invitation for wetiko to enter, just as a yawning door may be an invitation for the burglar to walk in:

The primary line of distorted code through which the wetiko virus deviates our mind is the presumption of the separate self. The unreflected-upon acceptance of the axiom of separation is what makes all of the other delusions that make up wetiko possible. Seeing the diabolical nature of the disease entails realizing that it is the bifurcating “us” versus “them” duality which splits the world into opposites, that is itself the generative root of the wetiko germ. Creating duality out of something that is inherently, seamlessly nondual is as impossible as trying to separate heat from a flame, wetness from water, or sweetness from sugar. In the same way, we can’t separate ourselves as the observer from the universe that we are observing. Buying into the presumption of separation plows fertile ground for wetiko’s seeds to flourish. [173] [emphases added]

Again and again, Levy castigates “the presumption of the separate self” and urges, instead of choosing imprisonment in the separate and blind “self,” that we all incorporate the alternative principle that “the outer world can be recognized to be the medium through which we can work on integrating and transforming our inner process.” [220] Anything less, and wetiko takes over:

As we track wetiko, we discover that its “fingerprints” are found in those places in our lives where we lack consciousness of the correspondence between the inner and the outer. Wetiko manifests when we are not in “self-referral” (self-reflection), but rather, are in “object-referral,” fixating on the problem as though it is separate from and outside of ourselves. [220]

Levy at this point draws closer to the question I asked a moment ago, the great question of “whether we can really do it,” and he does so by mentioning “political activists” and “spiritual practitioners”:

The wetiko bug gets enlivened when we artificially keep parts of ourselves separate from each other that should be in relationship with and cooperatively helping each other. For example, we need to step into our roles as “spiritually informed political activists,” or to say it differently, “politically active spiritual practitioners,” where spiritual understanding informs our political actions in the world. If we keep these two inner figures—spiritual practitioners and political activists—separate within ourselves, this is an expression of our inner fragmentation, and nonlocally feeds the wetiko psychosis in the field. [220]

“These two disciplines,” Levy explains, “need to creatively interpenetrate and impregnate each other to be truly effective. Either one by itself separate from the other makes us susceptible to becoming unwitting instruments for the wetiko bug to propagate itself in the field.”

Some spiritual practitioners, for example, use their practice as a way to avoid dealing with real world problems. Every genuinely accomplished spiritual practitioner than I know, on the other hand, is fully engaged with and participating in life. Spiritual practitioners who don’t recognize the outer universe as a continually unfolding revelation of their inner process become entranced by and absorbed into the spell of their own narcissism and ironically, in their quest for enlightenment, fall into a state of self-hypnosis which limits their active participation in the world and is lacking in genuine compassion. Dis-engaging from the greater body politic as an avoidance of being in relationship with a part of themselves, they are unwittingly supporting the cause of wetiko. [221]

For me, the extraordinarily good news that Paul Levy brings—not just in this book, but also in The Madness of George W. Bush and, additionally, in the no fewer than seventy-seven articles that, as I mentioned earlier, he has written so far—for me, the extraordinarily good news he brings, that wetiko can be dispelled, is qualified or diminished only by the bad news that has to do with how very many there are who “believe” themselves to be serving the cause of good but that nevertheless “are unwittingly supporting the cause of wetiko.”

If “some spiritual practitioners,” as Levy says, choose to “dis-engage” from the “greater body politic,” and if their reason for doing so (either wittingly or unwittingly, I should think) is “ as an avoidance of being in relationship with a part of themselves, then, Levy explains, “they are unwittingly supporting the cause of wetiko.”

This matter of avoiding relationship with “a part of the self” takes us back to the subject of “the presumption of the separate self” and also to the subject of denial of the relationship between inner and outer. We’ve seen the tremendously crippling significance of both of these things, and what I wonder now—or one of the many things I wonder—is whether this kind of dissociation from part of the self may exist not only in the Big Wetikos themselves but also throughout the political left, helping to explain the present almost total ineffectuality of the left in any significant political, social, or cultural way.

Levy makes it clear that “In our current world crisis, we all need to do something, even if in certain rare and exceptional cases this may look like ‘doing nothing’ other than simply meditating, praying, or being in the present moment.” [221] He goes on to clarify what “doing nothing” may really be:

If, as spiritual practitioners, we are truly called to this “action-less action,” instead of being an avoidance, in this case our “doing nothing” is a conscious response to what is going on both inside and outside of ourselves and can be a proactive way of facing what is actually occurring. Consciously embodying the simple presence of being is a very powerful form of spiritually informed political activism, which profoundly affects the greater field. [221] [emphasis added]

Such “simple presence of being” is not, however, incompatible with the taking of physical action:

Our simply being present, however, in no way precludes our being socially and politically active in a more participatory way if we so choose or are so chosen. The combination of embodied presence with direct action inspired and guided by this heightened awareness is a particularly powerful agent of genuine change in our world. [221]

But none of these effective or meliorative qualities or results can occur if the “perceived darkness in the world” is “separate from” the engaging self. The “presumption of the separate self” rules out political or psychic effectiveness:

The (arche)typical political activists, in fighting against the perceived darkness in the world as if it is separate from themselves, are unwittingly acting as a conduit to create and sustain the very thing they are fighting against. In fighting the system, they’re still in it. Fighting against evil in this way, they are unconsciously reacting against something in themselves, which is a form of aggression that perpetuates the diabolical polarization in the field, the calling card of wetiko. Fighting the devil is radically different from loving God. If they are unconsciously taken over by and acting out feelings of anger and hatred toward the perceived evil-doers, these political activists, however well intentioned, are feeding the spiritual poisons inside their own souls. Lacking in genuine compassion, they are then unwittingly supporting the plague of wetiko. [221–222] [emphasis added]

Levy’s description of those who are “fighting against the perceived darkness in the world as if it is separate from themselves” seems to me to fit an enormously great number of the writers, analysts, commentators, and journalists who are at work today in positions presumed to be “progressive,” “left,” or “liberal” but who fail entirely in having any practical, meliorative, healing, revelatory, or humane influence whatsoever either on the Big Wetikos themselves or on the present epidemic of the hyper-contagious wetiko disease. I wrote about a number of writers and analysts of this kind in my five-part article, “Dr. Judy Wood and the Future of the Earth,” where I called their work “impotence-writing” and named its producers “impotence writers.”

Paul Levy’s study, insight, and analysis, however, have now provided us with an entirely new way of explaining—and understanding—that impotence, showing us how its possessors are blinded and victimized by “the presumption of the separate self,” [173] how they are accordingly unable to see, when they look at the Big Wetikos, that these “master predators are not separate from us,” that “Their [the Big Wetikos’] madness is truly a reflection of our own,” [172] and that “it is the bifurcating ‘us’ versus ‘them’ duality which splits the world into opposites . . . [and] is itself the generative root of the wetiko germ.” [173]

After reading Paul Levy, a person will be changed. Those who have read his work will question themselves in ways they may never have done before, and they will look at the people around them similarly. Knowing about the “presumption of separate self” as opposed to the actuality of what the self really is—this will change their thinking as well as their seeing in dozens of ways. Knowing about wetiko—what it is, where it is, what it does, and exactly how it manages to get inside us and infect us before blinding us to its existence altogether—this kind of knowledge and understanding will not only change one’s own life in an astonishing number of ways, but it will make up a part of one’s own involvement in and influence on the collective effort to heal the world and guide it out of the collective psychosis that it now suffers, which is to say the collective psychosis that we now suffer.

The world, and we who live in it, are on a suicide path—a path that human beings alone, [x] who are the world’s conscience, have the capability of changing for the better. The great trouble is that at the present moment we, the world’s conscience, are asleep, insane, and blind.

We know already, from our reading of Dispelling Wetiko, that “Once under the wetiko spell, people lose the capacity to recognize the wetiko pathology in others.” [51] This disability greatly enhances the “probability of being infected with” what Levy calls “the leprosy of collective thinking.” [51] And here comes that particular aspect of our psychosis that leads us to accept or take as “normal” things that are not normal at all.[xi] Let’s take a look.

Levy writes that

In a full-blown psychic epidemic, the conscious and the unconscious actually trade places, which is to say the unconscious steps into the driver’s seat, which should be occupied by consciousness. People or groups who have fallen asleep and are under the thrall of the psychic epidemic are then “unconsciously” dreaming, that is, acting out their unconscious in fully embodied form, in contrast to being awake. . . . Not in touch with their inner guidance, they project authority outside of themselves and become very suggestible to the agreed-upon consensus opinion of the dominant pack. When we give away our power, there is always someone bearing the authority of “the State” who is more than happy to accept our offering, feeding the insatiable will-to-power of the shadow [or wetiko], which becomes collectively mobilized. [51]

This, then, is our own situation, in which can be seen the character and quality of the blindness that we have both created in ourselves and have allowed to be created in ourselves. Levy explains that

In a collective psychosis, people literally stop thinking for themselves and let others think for them, like sheep (or “sheeple”) who just follow wherever they are being led, even if it’s off the nearest cliff. Losing touch with their own discernment and ability for critical thinking, the “mass man” becomes part of the mindless herd and falls prey to “group-think,” whose members co-dependently enable each other to uphold their shared version of the wetiko world.” [51–52]

Notions like “mass man” and “group-think” are so commonplace to us by now that most of us hardly even stir, let alone stir into resistance, on hearing about them. This simple fact is yet another indication of our being blind. We may imagine that we are perceiving “reality” when we look out from the small personal office that exists somewhere behind our own eyes, but, more likely, reality is not what we’re perceiving. Let’s continue with Levy:

Once the office of “perception management,” largely through the corporate mainstream media, convinces a critical mass of people of a particular viewpoint, there is a consensus or agreement that is reached among the masses as to what is objectively true. The agreed-upon version of reality takes on a weight and momentum of its own and thereby becomes the established dogma of what is collectively imagined to be really happening. [52] [emphasis added]

Held on to as if it were “a religious truth”—with doubters being “marginalized and demonized, and called either crazy, a conspiracy theorist, or even a terrorist”—this kind of collective blindness,[xii] though it may be “based on the fundamental error of not being true,” nevertheless leads to deadly, murderous, ruinously destructive and self-destructive ends, including, for example, the “Global War on Terror.” Of that “war,” Levy writes that “It is a war on consciousness, a war on our own minds.” [emphasis added] He continues:

The global war on terror . . . is an embodied reflection in the material world of a deeper, more fundamental war that is going on in the realm of consciousness itself. People taken over by wetiko are the human instruments for the transpersonal “spirit of evil” to colonize and terrorize the world. In wetiko disease, we unwittingly become drafted into being foot soldiers in the war not on, but of and for, terror. [emphasis in original] The wetiko parasite feeds on and harvests the emotions of fear and terror. Terror is the essence of its insidious “ill-usory ill-logic.” In wetiko disease, the psyche takes the terror that haunts it from within, and in its attempt to master it, is unwittingly taken over by it, thus becoming an instrument of terror in the world. We have then become the very thing we most feared, as we psychologically terrorize ourselves, as well as terrorizing the world at large. Wetiko is the bug which feeds the experience of terror within our mind and out in the world, fueling one of its more prominent manifestations in our world today: the “Global War on Terror,” which is truly a war on our consciousness.” [53]

This war on our consciousness is powerfully supported from sources everywhere around us. Levy again quotes Jack D. Forbes, this time on the subject of “the rapidly spreading wetiko contagion.” Forbes writes that the contagion

is spread by the wetikos themselves as they recruit or corrupt others. It is spread today by history books, television, military training programs, police training programs, comic books, pornographic magazines, films, right-wing movements, fanatics of various kinds, high-pressure missionary groups, and numerous governments. [52]

And Levy himself follows up the excerpt from Forbes this way:

All of the mainstream, culturally sanctioned, corporatized institutions are in the business of indoctrination, telling us what to think and not think, as well as how to think. Our mind is continually being massaged into shape by the prevailing culture, our true face lifted as our spiritual pockets are picked. Our civilization has become the mouthpiece for the propaganda organ of the disease, entrancing us to “buy” into its viewpoint as we are bled to death of what really counts. The culture (sic) [sic] that in-forms and forms around wetiko illness is itself a channel of its transmission and growth. If we sign on the dotted line and subscribe to its viewpoint, its life-denying culture will gradually subsume us into itself, enlisting us as its agents who unwittingly do its bidding. This is how the ever-expanding, self-generating psychic empire of collective psychosis works as it increasingly takes over and approaches “full-employment.” [52–53] [emphasis in original]

Horror, calamity, ruin, death, monstrosities of purpose, murderous deeds, intellectual starvation, spiritual emptiness, emotional penury, war almost everywhere and poverty and starvation everywhere else, the ruin and elimination of entire nations and peoples—these are the “policies,” and these are the “policy results,” that we live among in our age of collective psychosis, of wetiko, which, Levy reminds us, “is a form of psychic blindness that imagines itself to be sightedness.” [225] [xiii]

The best advice for all of us, and, I powerfully believe, our only hope, is that each one of us follow the conscience, intelligence, and guidance of Paul Levy and strive in every way we can to awaken in the dream.


[i] Jack D. Forbes, author of Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism

[ii] One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

[iii] For an extraordinary and powerful analysis of the true nature of the relationship—both reciprocal and relational—between self and universe, see Paul Levy’s remarkable recent essay “Quantum Physics: The Physics of Dreaming.”

[iv] Readers might compare the words of Dr. Judy Wood in the closing paragraphs of her magisterial Where Did the Towers Go: Evidence of Directed Free-Energy Technology on 9/11: “We have a choice. And the choice is real. We can live happily and fruitfully and productively, or we can destroy the planet and die, every last one of us, along with every living thing on this planet” [p. 485]

[v] Levy has written at length on the subject of alchemy. See “The Sacred Art of Alchemy.”

[vi] Jack D. Forbes, author of Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism

[vii] Again, the relevance here of Levy’s articles on quantum physics is extraordinary: “Quantum Physics: the Physics of Dreaming” and “Quantum Meta-Physics.”

[viii] Once again, see Levy’s articles on quantum physics.

[ix] My own view is that a great deal of literature, from Homer’s Iliad to Shakespearean tragedy, through the romantic era and on to Virginia Woolf and Samuel Beckett, have struggled against the confines of dualism and have sought a holistic view of existence that is akin to Levy’s idea of “the field.”

[x] Again, see also Dr. Judy Wood (above, endnote # ii).

[xi] The sort of thing George Orwell had in mind when, in 1941, he began his essay “The Lion and the Unicorn” with this sentence: “As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.”

[xii] Readers interested in an analysis of this same idea but from a literary point of view might look into my own book, A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit. (2006)

[xiii] Interested readers might look at my 2011 book, The Skull of Yorick: The Emptiness of American Thinking at a Time of Grave Peril—Studies in the Cover-up of 9/11. “All I can call the thing I’m writing about, the thing that is destroying our nation and putting the entire world at risk—is the disease of blindness that believes itself to be sightedness.” [xx] [emphasis in original]

Professor Emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY), Eric Larsen has written and published widely for many years. He is author of the novels An American Memory (1988), I Am Zoё Handke (1992), The End of the 19th Century (2011), and The Decline and Fall of the American Nation (2013), and of the non-fiction books A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit (2006), Homer Whole: A Reading of the Iliad (2009), and The Skull of Yorick: The Emptiness of American Thinking at a Time of Grave Peril—Studies in the Cover-up of 9/11 (2011). Larsen is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Oliver Arts & Open Press.

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