Luke Skywalker: There's something not right here. I feel cold, death.
Yoda: That place...is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
Luke Skywalker: What's in there?
Yoda: Only what you take with you.
Yoda: Your weapons...you will not need them.
In the Western civilized world there is a strong focus on owning. One defines himself by what he owns, the house, the car, the wife, the body, the mind. Unfortunately, with this strategy the most important questions in life remain unanswered, that is the questions of being. Who I am or who I want to be? The great inner void on these important questions is reflected in deep depression and dramatic changes in life that the individual unconsciously brings to life, first to maintain the illusion of control and of owning, later perhaps to understand, that a different consciousness is necessary. Wars are fought because of the desire for control, because of missing recognition and love, but does it make someone strong to defeat a weaker person, or would it make sense to force conditions into play to hear the »I love you«?
It is said that Jesus encouraged others to love another person at least as much as person could love himself. And in Buddhism he is honored who defeats himself instead of another.
Rituals enforcing such paradigm shifts about the really important questions in life - guided by the old and wise men in the tribe - they have been lost almost completely. Who is still able to show someone else the path to sovereignty, id est the path to become a free, autonomous, independent and serene man?
In general the Elders of today are no longer role models for this. Perhaps it is because they have never experienced these important transition steps in consciousness themselves. And to be a real leader and role model, one has to be a warrior himself, and a magician, he must have felt king of the world, thereafter being thrown back just to feel all the suffering in the world, he must have seen his shadow and be at least in the process of becoming reconciled with his dark side, to let happen the final ritual in the dark night of the soul.
It is my hope that our longing for such experiences is again more clearly perceived these days, that such transitions can be lived out in a healthy way.
If you're a boy on your way to become a man, if you are already grown up and want to consciously process this step, if you are longing for real, inner answers - there is always something you can do. Take responsibility for your life. Meet yourself - in the vision quest.
Vision Quest - Instructions
Spend 3 days and 3 nights somewhere in nature - alone!
Vision Quest - Details
Actually, in the instructions everything is said. Find a place where you can avoid having to meet other people. You can take water, and if you wish a sleeping bag, some rain protection and a lighter. But take nothing else! No distractions, no food, no book, no phone, no music, just nothing. You can drink water, you can make a fire, build something, swim, dance, sing, talk with yourself, meditate, sleep as much as you want. But be alone with yourself, and do not eat anything.
It will be tough meeting yourself, and you'll have to stand it. There will be boredom, fantasies, despair, repressed parts will raise and question the image you carry about yourself. You will meet your shadow, your fears and worries, your grief and your anger. You will meet your dark side. You will feel helpless and you will realize that you have no control whatsoever. Are you going to bear it, or will you break off and return in failure?
You'll have to be strong. Because you do not have an audience that you could impress all your masks will fall. You'll need all the courage to look at you without any of this silver tinsel. Believe me, to fast three days is nothing compared to this experience. If you give yourself into it, perhaps you will eventually realize that there is nothing bad about you, and that there is an energy, which is supporting and feeding you since the very begin. You'll be as close to yourself as you have never been before in your entire life.
The third night you have to stay awake. Pay attention to everything that comes through your senses. It is the best time for your vision. Perhaps you see an animal that henceforth becomes your spiritual companion. Perhaps you suddenly feel the answer, your own answer, to a very important and personal question.
Before you start promise yourself a gift you would grant yourself, should you pass this test. After you made it tell someone about your vision quest, if possible to a man or a group of men that you appreciate. In such you externalize your inner journey and can receive a public acknowledgement, a confirmation, solemnity, for your transition and your initiation experience.
Maybe in your hardest hour you'll think about these lines, maybe you'll blame me for what I have recommended to do. But be assured: I have done it myself, I have cried, suffered, and I have been afraid. But I have completed the quest and returned to the bosom of the Andalusian civilization on 24 June 2004, after 72 hours in the Sierra Nevada, reeling because of weakness, but totally happy.
I wish you all the strength, courage, and confidence in yourself, so you can decide to head for this experience. My wishes accompany you, friend in spirit! May you succeed!
May the force be with you.
Vision Quest - Background
The vision quest is a tradition coming from the North American Indians. They had retired into solitude to get answers from the inner depths of their soul when important transitions in life were to happen. We can also benefit from the essence of this ritual in modern times, such as when we have to make an important decision for our lives or as an initiation ritual into manhood, if we want to meet our shadow, if we want to experience the forces that sustain us. Of course, an adult can also initiate his inner boy in his later life, and become a father for him, a father the boy never had before.
I believe that any reasonable mentally healthy man may expose himself to this experience, but you alone will have to make this decision for yourself.
Vision Quest for boys
For boys at the end of puberty a guided Vision Quest is recommended. It can become an unforgettable initiation.
A camp in the vicinity should provide security. Here the »elders« such as the father and grandfather can accompany the boy from far in his ritual, and they would be ready to provide help if necessary. Not every boy will get through this difficult adventure. But at least he has tried it once before, and that already brings an important experience.
Alone the boy gets to know himself in an »uncool« state. Then if he is sincere with himself he will find a good contact with his inner strength. Later he will not need to confront the world as a bully and tyrant, or as a weakling and wimp. When he returns to the camp, he will return as a man.
The »elders« should make him a gift, similar to a sign for knighthood, and the young man should talk in this group of men about his experiences. Later, the mother should prepare for a big celebration, and in front of all the guests she should release her son and recognize him as an independent, autonomous man.
And this he will be, less vulnerable, more relaxed, more confident. He knows, that he is rooted in his manhood, that he is a man!