Note: posted befoe the Iraq Invasion in 2003:
Dear Lovers of Inner Peace,
Spiritual people are often at a loss as to how to respond to political events. This essay is about looking beneath the surface, as that is where spiritual focus can leverage itself most powerfully, not in outer struggle. Both inner work and outer action are needed, but put inner work first as it will determine the direction and quality of outer action.
This essay is a meditation on the transmutation of the metal element that is currently occurring in the global psyche around the issue of war in Iraq. At the end I offer a short sample meditation of how the individual adept can help the global mind process this crisis. I believe this inner alchemical work is extremely important, whether before or after a war in Iraq.
Metal is the main element used in weaponry, and is the focal point of all alchemical work, both eastern and western alchemy, and in both internal and external (laboratory) alchemy. The transmutation of “lead” into “gold” is seen as both a psychic and material process. Like everything and everyone else, metal is considered to have both a divine and a demonic aspect.
For the last month I have been on retreat on an undeveloped island near South America, meditating and writing a book on internal alchemy. This remove made it easier to examine the underlying layers of what is really Spiritual people are often at a loss to respond to pressing political issues. driving the current crisis over Iraq. I am not speaking of the conflicting national greed, power, and ego (disguised as moral superiority) that are present in any war as its surface cause.
I am speaking of the deep global psyche of humanity and its relation to metal. Reading Mircae Eliade’s history of alchemy ( The Forge and the Crucible), I was reminded that it was on Iraqi soil, in ancient Babylonia, that alchemy is recorded as the first human effort to speed up the evolution of the metal element. Metal was mined, its ore an “embryo” pulled from the womb of the earth, and refined by fire, to bring out its “gold”, i.e. true higher nature. (I will ignore for simplicity’s sake the probability of much older civilizations that practiced alchemy, like Atlantis, and the pacific civilization that preceded Taoists in China).
Metallurgy, along with agriculture, was the turning point in human history, as it led to the development of nearly all modern technology, from plowshares to swords to cruise missiles. Five thousand years later, the US is threatening to deluge Iraq with metal munitions, from bombs to bullets, but most notably the metal uranium in the form of depleted uranium. Uranium would be considered by alchemists to be a volatile metal that is being “forced” open to do its dirty work. And dirty it is; besides being toxic (to humans and tanks), it has a half life of 4.5 billion years.
Whoever wins or loses any war in Iraq will be historically irrelevant — the stupid politicians, proud generals, greedy bankers & oil companies and the horribly suffering soldiers and innocent civilians will all die off and be forgotten in short order. However, Nature as a whole, and its disconsolate child Humanity, will have to deal with the consequences of this “corruption” of the metal element, basically forever.
Which is why this war is not ultimately about politics, but about the spiritual evolution of humanity, and about whether we can refine and elevate our relation to metal specifically and to technology in general. This potential war is about the inner will of humanity, and whether the demon of metal technology controls us or we control it. Not a final decision, but an important marker, because of the global focus and the completely voluntary nature of the pre-emptive war being proposed.
To get the sobering details of the effect of depleted uranium in the last Gulf War, read the interview (at end of this essay) with Major Doug Rokke, the top military physicist and officer in charge of monitoring biological, nuclear and chemical safety during that 1991 war. The most astounding fact he delivers is that the US military, ostensibly the bloodless victor in a quick war, actually had a casualty rate of thirty percent! After the war over 221,000. Veterans were discharged, basically “wounded” by radiation illness from our own weapons of mass destruction. So who really lost the war?
What is this global crisis really about? It is not about whether the UN inspections will work to stop Saddam. It is about humanity “inspecting” itself, all the nations and all the billions of humans now connected through metal technology (computers, tv’s, satellites) getting to witness their own desire for and revulsion against using metal for violence and revenge. Essentially, it is an ancient drama about the demonic vs. the divine in metal, enacted in the theater of ancient Babylonia. Its about, will humanity stop itself from destroying itself with metal technology? The layers of psychic history going back to Babylonia are all present to the global psyche, even if we as individuals have forgotten. This will intensify the depth of penetration of this war into the global psyche.
What is the spiritual significance of metal in this drama? Taoist alchemy clarifies this best: metal is ruled in the human body by the “po” soul, the Spirit of the Lungs that represents the personal metal element in the human psyche. The Po is the least evolved soul, the most prone to greed and narcissism, to “me” consciousness, the most attached to earth and body. The Po becomes a ghost after death, if not transmuted into “gold”, i.e. Integrated into the original spirit of ourselves and humanity. The Po is constantly at war with other elements/souls in our body, our heart spirit, etc. It doesn’t trust Heaven, or the celestial soul aspects of us. It is prone to use its metal chi demonically, to “cut” or wound its enemies in an age old cycle of revenge. If you cut the metal element in another person, it means you have cut their lung spirit so they can no longer breathe. (Depleted uranium particles ironically kill by being absorbed into the lining of the lungs).
Metal also has the power to cut skin (considered part of our metal boundary in chinese medicine) to open up the blood. Blood holds the ancestral patterns of revenge feeding the killing impulse. If you kill someone in battle with your sword,you must look into the eyes of your noble brother. Killing a face-to-face human enemy soldier may allow for some spiritual redemption. It’s possible in that moment of killing there is a soul exchange, even though you have violated the Life Force by killing what your species has birthed. If, by absorption in the moment of death, you “eat” the soul of the killed person, and accept your responsibility in killing, some soul transmutation in both soldiers may occur. The blood sacrifice forces some soul movement. A painful path to change, but a path.
What is truly evil or demonic about modern warfare is the spiritual separation from the act of killing that metal technology in weapons now allow. Modern soldiers and their pentagon guides never really kill anybody. The metal bombs and bullets and missiles do the killing. That is the only reason the US is even contemplating this war — the na?ve belief one can technologically kill the enemy at a distance without paying for it with a soul debt. That is true separation of actor from his act. It’s also a good working definition of evil — I didn’t do it, the Devil pulled the trigger. Or the trigger somehow got pulled to killed the devil enemy. The devil, of course, is just our own demonic ego, hiding behind metal armor, separated from the rest of our soul consciousness and thus from humanity.
Can we escape this struggle within the two sides of our metal-armored ego, and transmute globally our heavy lead ego into gold this time, what we couldn’t do in Gulf War 1991? Or will it merely be another global spectacle, ” US Military gladiators brandishing cruise missiles over their sacrificial Iraqi victims in the coliseum”, played for our convenience on CNN? Sanitized by the media of course, because the public wouldn’t watch if they really saw how gruesome war is. How evil all war is, even wars of “necessary evil”. And I can tell you my experience, from watching the killing in African wars, the lifeless bodies stinking in the streets, that war is the greatest sickness on this planet.
It’s too early to say, but there are positive signs. The Germans, with their memory of nazism, declining to support this hyped up war; the millions demonstrating worldwide. The smaller nations at the UN sticking together, refusing to be bullied by the big guns of the US. Maybe the US needs to express its excess yang, its aggression, and be witnessed by the global community, in order to see itself clearly and feel remorse. A new stage in the evolving global personality of humanity?
I did have a lucid dream about Saddam Hussein down on my island retreat that was a bit shocking to me. Saddam was cornered in a valley, fighting to the very end, and suddenly he surrenders. He walks away unscathed, wearing spiffy casual civilian sports clothes. I am a lucky journalist who happens to get an interview with him. He is friendly, gregarious, buys everyone a drink and charms the house. He takes a liking to me. He is coarse in his personality, still smells from all his killing, but I can feel his real heart opening. I awake.
Of course, this dream could be solely about the surrender of my own personal, or an ancestral, internal dictator. If so, it just means the “fire” of the global conflict is transmuting my internal metal element. But in my many years as a war correspondent in Africa and the mideast, I never had a single dream about a political leader. That’s why it was shocking to me. So the dream raises the possibility in my mind that the intense global media scrutiny of Saddam Hussein, and the anti-war protests, may be rapidly transforming him and us, the spectators.
Saddam is a human being, stuck in a centuries old role of medieval Islamic politics. He is probably discovering that he genuinely likes the novelty of being the global underdog championing his nation’s right to peace. That feeling may be his ticket to feeling a different kind of internal security. Not to suggest Saddam should escape justice for his numerous crimes. I just want to highlight that dramatic and unexpected shifts in global consciousness may be occurring, bigger than all of the players involved.
Anyway, the self-appointed job of alchemists is to speed up the transmutation of the metal element in man and in nature. The metal element – symbolized by our breath — within each of us offers us a fulcrum point to change the demon of metal into divine gold.
So I hope you will all join in the alchemical process this Friday, where ever you are. And everyday thereafter, or every breath you take thereafter….as metal is the dense octave of air. If we transmute our breathing, and soften it with the yin fire or “civil fire” within our hearts, just as a smith softens the metal on his fiery forge, we transmute our Po soul.
A simple meditation is to use the Inner Smile. Just breathe deep into your lungs, embracing the aspects of your psyche caught up in internal wars. Dissolve your attachment to the global drama, stirred up by media reports. Smile to the blood consciousness of your ancestors that breathes in your lungs, and neutrally accept and witness the memory of the scars of their many ancient wars imprinted in your lung spirit. Breathe out, release.
Feel the rigid “metal” structure of your beliefs and judgments of self-righteousness dissolving as you smile inside your lungs. Rigid metal means rigid breathing. Do the lung healing sound (Hissss…) to help release and recycle those trapped war feelings: the cycle of killing, fear and revenge, and grief over being trapped in it. Release our collective grief at being stuck in this dehumanizing cycle for so many millenia. Breathe in again, fresh chi of this moment, embracing life, then breathe out, letting go of the past.
Contact your Yi, your creative power of intention centered in your spleen/earth element, by smiling to it. Ask its for help in strengthening our true metal, and to help our lungs-heavy lead consciousness to release whatever is ready to be released. As you breathe it out, see it transmuted into a Gold pearl.
This gold pearl is the transmuted metal that you imagine resting in the heart of gold of our collective humanity. Underneath the layers of hatred and violence and fear. As you breathe, nothing is discarded, everything – the fear, grief, hatred, the killers and their victims — is gathered back into the radiant fire of our collective heart, but in a purified form. You could imagine the gold pearl as a sun inside your belly cauldron, or floating in front of your third eye (upper cauldron).
To your inner gold and a peaceful heart,
Feb. 18, 2003
Ps. While we are on the topic of cultivating inner peace, the Fusion of the Five Elements process offers even more powerful methods for creating peace within. The Inner Smile is basic, Fusion is intermediate, Kan and Li is more advanced.
The fusion process helps us to quickly transform negative emotion and transmute it back into innate human virtue. It is crucial to both our internal growth process and to our outer peace process. Some of you may have learned it and forgotten to practice.
It requires review to master, but it pays off in the end. If you cannot study it live with an instructor near you, consider getting it on audio tape. It is key to inner alchemical transmutation of our heavy lead ego self. I use the fusion pattern at higher octaves all though the more advanced kan and li (water and firei) alchemy formulas.
THE WAR AGAINST OURSELVES
An Interview with Major Doug Rokke
FutureNet / Yes!
Doug Rokke has a PhD in health physics and was originally trained as a forensic scientist. When the Gulf War started, he was assigned to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, and sent to the Gulf. What he experienced has made him a passionate voice for peace, traveling the country to speak out. The following interview was conducted by the director of the Traprock Peace Center, Sunny Miller, supplemented with questions from YES! editors.
QUESTION : Any viewer who saw the war on television had the impression this was an easy war, fought from a distance and soldiers coming back relatively unharmed. Is this an accurate picture?
ROKKE : At the completion of the Gulf War, when we came back to the United States in the fall of 1991, we had a total casualty count of 760: 294 dead, a little over 400 wounded or ill. But the casualty rate now for Gulf War veterans is approximately 30 percent. Of those stationed in the theater, including after the conflict, 221,000 have been awarded disability, according to a Veterans Affairs (VA) report issued September 10, 2002.
Many of the US casualties died as a direct result of uranium munitions friendly fire. US forces killed and wounded US forces.
We recommended care for anybody downwind of any uranium dust, anybody working in and around uranium contamination, and anyone within a vehicle, structure, or building that’s struck with uranium munitions. That’s thousands upon thousands of individuals, but not only US troops. You should provide medical care not only for the enemy soldiers but for the Iraqi women and children affected, and clean up all of the contamination in Iraq.
And it’s not just children in Iraq. It’s children born to soldiers after they came back home. The military admitted that they were finding uranium excreted in the semen of the soldiers. If you’ve got uranium in the semen, the genetics are messed up. So when the children were conceived — the alpha particles cause such tremendous cell damage and genetics damage that everything goes bad. Studies have found that male soldiers who served in the Gulf War were almost twice as likely to have a child with a birth defect and female soldiers almost three times as likely.
Q: You have been a military man for over 35 years. You served in Vietnam as a bombardier and you are still in the US Army Reserves. Now you’re going around the country speaking about the dangers of depleted uranium (DU). What made you decide you had to speak publicly about DU?
ROKKE: Everybody on my team was getting sick. My best friend John Sitton was dying. The military refused him medical care, and he died. John set up the medical evacuation communication system for the entire theater. Then he got contaminated doing the work.
John and Rolla Dolph and I were best friends in the civilian world, the military world, forever. Rolla got sick. I personally got the order that sent him to war. We were both activated together. I was given the assignment to teach nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare and make sure soldiers came back alive and safe. I take it seriously. I was sent to the Gulf with this instruction: Bring ’em back alive. Clear as could be. But when I got all the training together, all the environmental cleanup procedures together, all the medical directives, nothing happened.
More than 100 American soldiers were exposed to DU in friendly fire accidents, plus untold numbers of soldiers who climbed on and entered tanks that had been hit with DU, taking photos and gathering souvenirs to take home. They didn’t know about the hazards.
DU is an extremely effective weapon. Each tank round is 10 pounds of solid uranium-238 contaminated with plutonium, neptunium, americium. It is pyrophoric, generating intense heat on impact, penetrating a tank because of the heavy weight of its metal. When uranium munitions hit, it’s like a firestorm inside any vehicle or structure, and so we saw tremendous burns, tremendous injuries. It was devastating.
The US military decided to blow up Saddam’s chemical, biological, and radiological stockpiles in place, which released the contamination back on the US troops and on everybody in the whole region. The chemical agent detectors and radiological monitors were going off all over the place. We had all of the various nerve agents. We think there were biological agents, and there were destroyed nuclear reactor facilities. It was a toxic wasteland. And we had DU added to this whole mess.
When we first got assigned to clean up the DU and arrived in northern Saudi Arabia, we started getting sick within 72 hours. Respiratory problems, rashes, bleeding, open sores started almost immediately.
When you have a mass dose of radioactive particulates and you start breathing that in, the deposit sits in the back of the pharynx, where the cancer started initially on the first guy. It doesn’t take a lot of time. I had a father and son working with me. The father is already dead from lung cancer, and the sick son is still denied medical care.
Q: Did you suspect what was happening?
ROKKE: We didn’t know anything about DU when the Gulf War started. As a warrior, you’re listening to your leaders, and they’re saying there are no health effects from the DU. But, as we started to study this, to go back to what we learned in physics and our engineering — I was a professor of environmental science and engineering — you learn rapidly that what they’re telling you doesn’t agree with what you know and observe.
In June of 1991, when I got back to the States, I was sick. Respiratory problems and the rashes and neurological things were starting to show up.
Q: Why didn’t you go to the VA with a medical complaint?
ROKKE: Because I was still in the Army, and I was told I couldn’t file. You have to have the information that connects your exposure to your service before you go to the VA. The VA obviously wasn’t going to take care of me, so I went to my private physician. We had no idea what it was, but so many good people were coming back sick.
They didn’t do tests on me or my team members. According to the Department of Defense’s own guidelines put out in 1992, any excretion level in the urine above 15 micrograms of uranium per day should result in immediate medical testing, and when you get up to 250 micrograms of total uranium excreted per day, you’re supposed to be under continuous medical care.
Finally the US Department of Energy performed a radiobioassay on me in November 1994, while I was director of the Depleted Uranium Project for the Department of Defense. My excretion rate was approximately 1500 micrograms per day. My level was 5 to 6 times beyond the level that requires continuous medical care.
But they didn’t tell me for two and a half years.
Q: What are the symptoms of exposure to DU?
ROKKE: Fibromyalgia. Eye cataracts from the radiation. When uranium impacts any type of vehicle or structure, uranium oxide dust and pieces of uranium explode all over the place. This can be breathed in or go into a wound. Once it gets in the body, a portion of this stuff is soluble, which means it goes into the blood stream and all of your organs. The insoluble fraction stays — in the lungs, for example. The radiation damage and the particulates destroy the lungs.
Q: What kind of training have the troops had, who are getting called up right now — the ones being shipped to the vicinity of what may be the next Gulf War?
ROKKE: As the director of the Depleted Uranium Project, I developed a 40-hour block of training. All that curriculum has been shelved. They turned what I wrote into a 20-minute program that’s full of distortions. It doesn’t deal with the reality of uranium munitions.
The equipment is defective. The General Accounting Office verified that the gas masks leak, the chemical protective suits leak. Unbelievably, Defense Department officials recently said the defects can be fixed with duct tape.
Q: If my neighbors are being sent off to combat with equipment and training that is inadequate, and into battle with a toxic weapon, DU, who can speak up?
ROKKE : Every husband and wife, son and daughter, grandparent, aunt and uncle, needs to call their congressmen and cite these official government reports and force the military to ensure that our troops have adequate equipment and adequate training. If we don’t take care of our American veterans after a war, as happened with the Gulf War, and now we’re about ready to send them into a war again — we can’t do it. We can’t do it. It’s a crime against God. It’s a crime against humanity to use uranium munitions in a war, and it’s devastating to ignore the consequences of war.
These consequences last for eternity. The half life of uranium 238 is 4.5 billion years. And we left over 320 tons all over the place in Iraq.
We also bombarded Vieques, Puerto Rico, with DU in preparation for the war in Kosovo. That’s affecting American citizens on American territory. When I tried to activate our team from the Department of Defense responsible for radiological safety and DU cleanup in Vieques, I was told no. When I tried to activate medical care, I was told no.
The US Army made me their expert. I went into the project with the total intent to ensure they could use uranium munitions in war, because I’m a warrior. What I saw as director of the project, doing the research and working with my own medical conditions and everybody else’s, led me to one conclusion: uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone, not just the US or the Canadians or the British or the Germans or the French but for the American citizens of Vieques, for the residents of Iraq, of Okinawa, of Scotland, of Indiana, of Maryland, and now Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Q: If your information got out widely, do you think there’s a possibility that the families of those soldiers would beg them to refuse?
ROKKE: If you’re going to be sent into a toxic wasteland, and you know you’re going to wear gas masks and chemical protective suits that leak, and you’re not going to get any medical care after you’re exposed to all of these things, would you go? Suppose they gave a war and nobody came. You’ve got to start peace sometime.
Q: It does sound remarkable for someone who has been in the military for 35 years to be talking about when peace should begin.
ROKKE: When I do these talks, especially in churches, I’m reminded that these religions say, “And a child will lead us to peace.” But if we contaminate the environment, where will the child come from? The children won’t be there. War has become obsolete, because we can’t deal with the consequences on our warriors or the environment, but more important, on the noncombatants. When you reach a point in war when the contamination and the health effects of war can’t be cleaned up because of the weapons you use, and medical care can’t be given to the soldiers who participated in the war on either side or to the civilians affected, then it’s time for peace.
For more information on DU, see:
THE WISE URANIUM PROJECT:
THE NATIONAL GULF WAR RESOURCE CENTER:
VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE:
Sunny Miller’s interview was originally broadcast on WMFO (Boston) in November 2002 and is available for re-broadcast at: