“This is why I’m alive, so bring it on…”
Part one of our wonderful, wide-ranging conversation with the renowned spiritual teacher Dr Joe Marshalla is here.
Part two covers political and social change, death experiences, parenting, science, holotropic thinking and ‘insanity’. Without further ado, here’s part two of your exclusive introduction to Joe Marshalla, our man in Hawaii…
Politics, Society and Maintaining Energy
UDL: Can you give an example of involvement in political or social campaigns that you’ve managed to navigate without it depleting your vital energy?
JM: In the last three years I’ve lived in Hawaii, and it’s the largest open-air biological and chemical test site in the world. The Hawaiian Islands have been declared a sacrifice zone, so if one of the experiments goes wrong, it’s in the middle of the ocean away from population centres. So new GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are being developed by Dow, Monsanto, BASF, Pioneer…everybody’s here.
I wrote a law, and in the US citizens can get enough signatures to force a vote on a petition. It had never happened in the state of Hawaii before. We wanted a temporary moratorium until it was proved that the experiments weren’t damaging the environment. Pretty simple. But for every $10,000 we spent, they spent $2 million.
They spent $15-$20 million to try to defeat us, but we won. I went up against the beast and beat him. We’re one step before the supreme court now, if we have to go there to win.
I wrote the law and directed the campaign against all the propaganda. Everything it was built on was to be for something not against something. We were for children, for protection of the land. We weren’t against GMOs and Monsatan (sic). The basic communication style was: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The truth isn’t any truer if you yell it.
We came from the heart and from Aloha.
Anyway, they didn’t know how to deal with love. Violence, anger and rage, they can use that to marginalise the cause. We also proved the contamination of the islands, we had the facts too.
The key element is transmutation, being for something. Stop calling people up and start calling them in.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care
The Human Function
UDL: That sounds like a very Yin approach, helping, sustaining and growing. Could you say more?
JM: I’ve had several death experiences, one of 12 hours when I had a stroke. I was laying there with all these tubes in me and I thought ‘OK I’m back’ but it got me asking myself: ‘What for?’
Every being has a purpose, every microbe, insect, plant serves a function. What’s the function of a human life in the biosphere? The only thing I could come up with that for myself seemed halfway reasonable was that my function is to uplift and nurture all life. I believe that is the function of all of us. From there, whether you write a law or start a social movement or whatever, that is your function, not to rip somebody else off or gather more and more or beat some competition.
In every breath, the question is what can I give not what can I get.
Giving, receiving, with whoever, every moment. From there you can’t go wrong.
UDL: How about taming the mind, giving it some direction? How would you input that with young children? People can go from loving acceptance to being controlling of their children very quickly, and it can be unsettling and challenging for the adult and the child.
JM: I teach a class called Conscious Parenting and what I talk about is the fact that it has been proven definitively that children desire, want, need and thrive within boundaries. They are able to operate in a freer state of mind if they know what the rules are, much more than if they don’t. And so being consistent with that is absolutely key.
The most important thing when raising children is to separate the behaviours from the being, to separate their choices from the beauty of who they are. With my own children, whenever ‘course correction’ was required, I would first tell them how beautiful and perfect they are and how much I love them, then I would say ‘now let’s discuss this choice you made’.
The most important thing when raising children is to separate the behaviours from the being
We shape our children’s belief systems about themselves when we say ‘What’s wrong with you?’ – we set them up to not love themselves, to think there’s something wrong with themselves. If they act one way they’re acceptable, another way, they’re not.
If we address it as a matter of choices, without accusations, it gives them an empowerment that they can make a different choice. They can participate in their evolution. Anything else negates that possibility and we give conditional love, so save up for college and save up for psychotherapy because they’re gonna need it!
It’s what was done to us, but we gotta break those chains.
My daughter was on my radio show once, aged 25, and I asked her ‘What was it like to have me as a dad, trying out all my ideas?’
She replied ‘I really don’t know how to beat myself up when I make a mistake like my friends do’.
She told the listeners that every time she was out of line I would sit her down and tell her I love her and how beautiful she is. And we’d talk about the lesson.
‘The lack of awareness of the ramifications of your actions’ is one of the dictionary definitions of the word ‘Mistake’, so you do something, you suddenly become aware, so if you look at it, it’s a lesson, not a mistake.
UDL: Intolerance can be a big issue for parents, especially having to repeat themselves to their child
JM: Another key thing I teach is the idea of forming a team with your child, where you are equals. You say ‘we’re both travelling through life together, we’ll help each other through everything that happens. We’ll make each other’s lives easier, happier and better, that’s the purpose of our team’.
You generate this cooperation, they belong to something, they’re not just a thing that needs to be tended to now and again. It’s really subtle stuff, around the dishes and so on, but it makes all the difference in the world.
Seeking Vs Being
UDL: Do you think academia made spirituality something easier to fathom for you? Neuroscientists and doctors are now providing the proof to a lot of spiritual beliefs.
JM: Yeah, absolutely. So much of what I share is just a regurgitation of science and data, strung together in a sequence to create a new revelation about how it works.
I’m constantly at the cutting edge of new science and new technology.
But we are seeking answers, a lot of us have this idea that if we just get the missing piece, we’ll be enlightened or peaceful. The problem with that aim is that the seeking part of ourselves never stops. It finds out that there’s more to find out. The seeker is never going to truly understand, so it’s never going to know. So the only thing left to do is Be.
Be, without projection and be without protection.
UDL: A bit of a vulnerable state?
JM: And then when you’re there you then understand and then you know! By being but not by seeking.
…a lot of us have this idea that if we just get the missing piece, we’ll be enlightened or peaceful
UDL: Your term ‘Holotropic Thinking’ (movement towards wholeness) has helped me to better define myself. There’s a relief in that term for me because it helps me understand why I am different, not crazy. Have you always known it about yourself, or did you discover it in a similar way to me, through experience and deduction?
JM: I didn’t have a word, but I knew that was what it was. I was an undiagnosed dyslexic, so I had to find ways in myself to understand the written word. Maybe the trauma of my life meant I had to look to find explanations.
At school, it was a bad thing. I could not write and finally, a teacher said ‘just write the way you can’, my college professor allowed my writing style to be as it was. It matched my holotropic thinking.
I’ve always disassociated with reality and always saw the world differently to everyone else. I learned to play the social game, but since age four I’ve been cognizant of the fact that we are not being how we were created to be.
UDL: I’ve always thought that ‘insanity’ is the highest form of intelligence. Somebody void of ego may not look as you would expect. For instance, in this area, where I grew up, there are some people who are diagnosed with mental health issues and they have taken certain drugs and so on. But they say the truest and freest things I’ve heard from anybody. They don’t hesitate to talk to anybody, which is how I think it should be. Is the language of spirituality, whether in academia or science, that far from the ‘insane’ person in the street?
JM: I’ve always said that etiquette is the death of authenticity. Society has said ‘This is a sane person, this is an insane person’ but who is to judge.
These ‘insane’ people might be seen as prophets in India or Thailand.
Let’s look at circumstances. Someone can see that they’re a human being on the planet and they need food, and they shouldn’t hurt anybody. These are basic human rules. If you’re unaware of those rules, that’s a delusional state. I’m not saying it’s bad or wrong, but it can be harmful to the person, they’re at a point of losing touch with who they are to the extent that they’ll hurt themselves or someone else. I would classify that as insanity.
Now, not fitting into the rules, doing their own thing, talking gibberish, I would describe these things as coping mechanisms. For generations now, the human race has grown up in unnatural environments and thought of them as natural. What is natural becomes seen as unnatural. There are some people who seem more sensitive to the deadening of one’s experience on earth when this disconnect occurs. All the pollution, radiation and so on. There can be a cacophony of uncontrolled, undifferentiated storms and people can’t differentiate themselves from the storms going on in their environment, so the only way they really can cope is to check out.
There are different levels of different capabilities of integration and distinction between oneself and one’s environment. It’s at those junctures that one would characterise ‘sanity’ or ‘insanity’.
It’s sad we now call it a ‘disease’ when actually it’s a biological response to the disease of the disconnect.
UDL: Joe Marshalla, thank you so much for joining us for this conversation. Until the next time, Aloha…
Interview conducted via Skype by Angel Lewis,
Transcribed / edited by Tom Charles,
Photos of Hawaii teefed from http://www.hawaiiactivities.com/