Jerry Katz: My Guest is Paul Boudreau. Paul lives in Dartmouth right across the harbor from Halifax. Paul Boudreau is co-author along with his Dartmouth neighbor Lloyd M. Dickie of the new book – and it’s a good one – Awakening Higher Consciousness: Guidance from Ancient Egypt and Sumer published by Inner Traditions. Ordering options are available at http://www.awhico.com.
Paul R. Boudreau has a Masters Degree from Dalhousie University right here where the radio station is located. Paul worked in fisheries ecology as a career. Ancient myths and sites have captured his attention since childhood. We want to find out about that. And he struggled to understand what was important in what he was taught as fairy tales. We will learn about that.
Paul has travelled the world and experienced many of the higher creations both ancient and modern. His onsite exploration of Egyptian temples, tombs and pyramids – again something we want to hear about. They demonstrated the need to Paul for more detail and precision in how we look at ourselves and our world. Really fascinating.
Paul and Lloyd write in their book: “The pursuit of those lost elements in our lives is what led the authors to these explorations of myths.”
So welcome Paul Boudreau.
Paul Boudreau: Hi Jerry, how are you doing?
Jerry: I’m good. Interesting book. I really like your take. The title is Awakening Higher Consciousness. It is not just a study for academic purposes or to just look at the symbols. Your really make it personal. So can we start with a bit of background on the book and then say something about higher consciousness. And jump into your experience starting from childhood and what’s it been like.
Paul: It’s been a lifelong study for both Lloyd and I in terms of both myth and consciousness. And the book is our effort to look at what many people see as fairy tales and spells, as tales of far far away long long ago. We look at these myths to explore how ancient myths and literature provide us with some valuable language for us here today in our present world in our search for who we are and who we might be. That goes back to us as little kids listening to fairy tales as well as the religious literature and the Bible and not making much sense of these stories that seemed ridiculous. The Genesis story for instance of naked people running around a garden with a talking snake. Obviously we knew that these stories have been conserved and cultivated for a long time and presented to us as children. But it didn’t make sense that the theme should be someone eating an apple. It had to have a deeper meaning.
A little background, Lloyd and I worked as fisheries ecologists which gave us a bit of time on the back of fishing boats cutting up fish and measuring fish. It gave us a lot of time to chat about the ways of the world and what we have experienced. We came to find that we had these shared interest both in our early experiences as younger people as well as our experiences in encountering myths. As scientists were curious in what the meant and undertook on a study of exploring where we might go.
Jerry: So you were really kindred souls the two of you. So was Lloyd a mentor to your? You worked together.
Paul: Absolutely. He was a strong mentor to me. He was a senior scientist at the time that I was just learning how to cut fish. So we’ve been working together for 35 years. He was interested in Egypt and the Egyptian culture long before I met him and he introduced me to both the mysteries and the knowledge that Egypt contained from 5000 years ago.
I always bought into the view that the Egyptians were a funerary culture and that they were only worried about dead people. Through our many years of work andour multiple visits to Egyptwe found higher meanings in many of their constructions and their literature that seems to be missed today.
Jerry: Still seems to be missed today. What about in the academic world today? Do they consider the higher conscious aspect? What do you mean by higher consciousness? Maybe you could talk about that?
Paul: Yes, higher consciousness. We don’t define it - quite deliberately so. The title is awakening higher consciousness, not awakening highest consciousness. So in this particular book we are just trying to engage those moments of awakening that I certainly remember in my lifetime that highlights the fact that I am not always at the same level of consciousness. Sometimes I am physically asleep in bed. But I have had a number of instances where I awoke to see that I wasn’t present before, but there was a moment when I was more aware and more consciousness, but then such is life that they pass and I go back to sleep again. But I have experienced enough of those moments of higher consciousness to realize that my consciousness is not always at the same level. If I can identify those moments of higher consciousness and try to encourage them or work at reencountering them, then my life will be better off. I am reluctant to define higher consciousness. It is easy to say that I experience most of my life as a lower consciousness and to try and get away from that is part of the task.
Jerry: You talk of the big Self and the Big I, so maybe its better not to define higher consciousness because anyone reading the book or attracted to the title will have their own understanding of what that is. You use the phrase “engaging moments of awakening”. Anyone who is interested in that idea of higher consciousness has an understanding of know what that is for them. Whatever that is. Maybe it is better to not define it. Leave it to the reader.
Paul: I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. We’ve explored these various levels of consciousness through what we read into the Sumerian and Egyptian literature. Even today I don’t think we have a very good vocabulary or language for the discussion we are struggle have about the higher and lower. We see in the ancient literature, that they have some excellent images that help me identify those moments.
Jerry: I did ask how the academic world feel about the pursuit of higher consciousness in the course of studying of myths or mythology.
Paul: I know that there is a full diversity. Some people would like to think that the ancient Egyptians wrote about people dying and that was it. But there are other people exploring the other aspects of the Egyptian culture. It is hard to characterize what academia looks at in terms of what this all means.
Access to the literature is so much better now than we Lloyd and I began 30 years ago. The internet is a huge resource where we can now look at all of the original Sumerian literature on line from a website coming from the Oxford University. Listeners can do a Google search for on the Electronic Textual Corpus of Sumerian Language (ETCSL) and they can read all of the Sumerian literature on line. The same with the Pyramid texts. You can search for the PyramidTextsOnLine. You can see all of the pictures of all the text and all of the translations.
This really helps to get it outside the expertise, outside of academia and put on everyone’s laptop. That is a part of our book is to try encourage and get people to get engaged in this kind of direct experience with direct the study of these text.
Jerry: Excellent! It is good that you mentioned those web sites. Are there others doing what you do? Accessing these great myths to support the search for higher consciousness?
Paul: Absolutely! We've built our work on the work of numerous other people. When we started working we were quite engaged with the book called Hamlets Mill. Which basically was a fantastic insight into the ability for myths to carry real knowledge. When we started we weren’t sure if they were just fairy tales. We built quite strongly on some of the earlier writers who had to prove that myths held real information. It wasn’t clear then.
Jerry: That must have been interesting. Here you guys were working together as scientists and cutting bait and measuring fish and you find this connection with myths that you’re both interested, then you knew there was somewhere in the myths the possibility of expanding consciousness and then you had to find out who else, or wondered if anyone else, was talking about this.
Paul: We were both drawn to this. Both Lloyd and I were trained as ecologists. That gave us a bit of extra and insights into levels of organization and context which was a bit different than studying one fish – when you look at predator and prey. We obviously were atuned to look at relationships in the searching for the proper level organization and that certainly carried over into what we are talking about now in regards to levels of consciousness.
As a simple example, when I was a kid we played in the schoolyard and sang Ring around the Rosie. Do you know that one? We sang it “Achoo, Achoo, Achoo, we all fall down”. It was decades later before I was able to find a reference to the origins of that nursery rhyme which had to do with the Great Plague of the 1600s. I mention it here because hundreds of years later kids are still relating the story of the great European plague without knowing it. I don’t think many people at all know that this is where it comes from. So the idea that myth and early literature can carry real information through the ages is a very important point to us. It is not just airy fairy imagination, there is real information carried along with.
Jerry: It is interesting that they would make it a kids game. Well even you said that as a kid you felt that. Is that true?
Paul: Absolutely. I already mentioned the Garden of Eden. Why were they teaching me about naked people and the snake. The desire to look beyond the obvious, beyond the first level. In the book we talk about the levels of interpreting myths. We talk about the literal, the figurative the hieroglyphic and the esoteric. I am not sure people make it so explicit when they read myths or literature.
An example is on the literal level in the fairy tale of Red Riding the wolf is a hairy carnivore with long teeth, it’s an animal. But with a little bit of reflection most people can see the wolf as a bad influence that could be leading someone astray. On the next higher level of hieroglyphic or symbolic, it is a force operating within the story. It is unfortunate that granny has to get eaten, but through the process Red Riding Hood matures, meets the hunter and goes off and does other more mature things. So the challenge of looking at myths at different levels, not just the right level or the correct level, but different levels helps to tease out how these myths really could apply to us now as we struggle for our own lives and figure out what we are doing.
Jerry: In talking about levels, do you find as you read the myths, as the years go by, as you re-read them, that you see more in them and get more out of them?
Paul: Absolutely. For myself to bring myself to the myth, any myth, helps me get more out of it. The idea of participating in the reading is critical to getting anywhere. Obviously you can read any of these myths as external entertainments and many people to do. But for me, to bring myself and my experience to the myth highlights certain aspects that I’ve missed in my own operations and helps flag certain things like these moments awakening. It helps understand that they are real and provides some details I would not otherwise have noticed.
Jerry: I am looking at this quote that I did earlier, “The pursuit of those lost elements in our lives.” This whole thing about the pursuit of lost elements. And I am thinking about this personal drive as a kid that you felt pulsing behind these fairy tales, biblical stories and myths. What is behind that for any individual? As a kid or any point in our life where we suddenly get a calling, something comes knocking on the door – check this out - something whispers to us. We have to follow it. What is that? Is there anything in mythology that speaks to that you can think of off hand?
Paul: Certainly some of the writings that we have encountered talk about the desire to reconnect with a higher. For me life is more interesting when you ask those kind of questions.
Jerry: For someone else it might be something else. Might be drawing pictures or paintings. That whole idea of we get these callings in our life. Some do. Maybe some don’t feel they do. Some have been called and have missed the opportunity. They didn’t know how to approach it, how to ask questions, how to investigate it.
Paul: I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t started up the conversation with Lloyd.
Jerry: And that’s the other part of it. Then you met Lloyd in order crystalized the whole question and push it forth.
Paul: And we still proceed. That is fantastic.
Jerry: No end to it.
We talked before in our last conversation and forgot to ask you something. Maybe I’ll ask it here.
Paul: What’s that?
Jerry: In an interview you said that visited the pyramids and said “To be in the middle of a pyramid is such a calm and reassuring yet earth shattering place to be in the world. Lloyd and I have done it a couple of times.”
Calm, reassuring yet earth shattering. I would love to hear about the journey there and whatever you want to talk about.
Paul: Obviously in the book we talk about the pyramids and the Pyramid Texts but we have also experienced the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza just outside of Cairo. We could have a whole show on that. One thing in particular that we encountered and experienced was to sit in one corner of the King’s Chamber and hum. At a particular note the whole world seems to vibrate. Certainly the chamber is vibrating. So you are sitting in this massive mass of anchored stone so isolated from the world, and yet with a minimal effort at humming, the whole world seems alive and active. At one point there was a female voice that joined us and we had three octaves going. It was an incredible experience which I will never forget. It was a very personal experience that goes beyond measuring the orientation and the number of blocks which are all true, but it was a personal experience of the Great Pyramid to be in that room and share that vibration – its was overwhelming and still sticks in my mind and body.
Jerry: Mind and body – yeah.
Paul: That is one way to connect with the ancient civilization of Ancient Egypt from 5,000 years ago. But we also look at the literature that was written down at the same time as they were building the great pyramids. We look at a number of different aspects in the book, and we focus on the Pyramid Texts that are engraved in stone - engraved in stone, now I wonder where that phrase comes from? They were written stone in some of the earliest pyramids ever built. We have some pictures on our website http://awhico.com which shows the clarity, the beauty and the precision of this very very early writing 5000 years ago. The Ancient Egyptian culture was exploring all of this higher consciousness from a number of different angles – physical, intellectual and emotional in a way that is astounding considering that it was at the dawning of civilization. We buy into the idea that we are the result of progress. Over 5,000 years the Egyptian, Babylonian, Greeks, etc. are somehow more advanced. When you experience the ancient literature and sites, I am not sure that we are more advanced. I think they were struggling with the same issues that we have in understanding our consciousness. But they had some tools which they employed that even 5,000 years later are quite impressive. The King’s Chamber as an experience is one, the literature on the Pyramid Texts is another, fabulous art, they represented their higher thoughts in many ways. To put them all together in a way that could be understood by modern man is quite a challenge. But the first step is to not look upon them as fairy tales. We need to look at these people as highly advanced even though we don’t know where they came from and that they were operating at the dawn of civilization. Once you move away form the dismissive role that they were somehow primitive one can see the results of their culture in a totally different way.
Jerry: You said “not know where they come”. I am picking up on those words. Maybe I’ll go out in left field. Everyone listening to this type of show wants to know what do you think about ancient aliens and architecture on the moon. You said yourself that they may not know where a lot of this knowledgecome from.
Paul: I’ve never seen a UFO or never met an alien. Being a biologist, I have seen some very weird, peculiar strange things difficult things to understand in nature. Just because se don’t understand them, we must get lazy and start thinking oh they must have come from aliens. Where in fact humans even that long ago could have been quite ingenious and having their own techniquest that have now been lost.
You may be aware of recent research into Gobekli Tepe the ancient historic site in Turkey which has been archilogically dated to 12,000 years ago. Which is quite a bit older than the Egyptians. It is a site of megalithic carvings at a date and age that preceded agriculture, cities; preceded most of what we talk about. I am fascinated that the modern evidence, this Gobekli Tepe which a number of people are studying at the moment was built by hunter gathers who I always taught that hunter gathers lived a short mean hard life before they died young. Where they come from is a very real question but there is a lot left to learn about where we come from. It is much older than the Greeks who generally get named as our beginning. The Greeks, only 2,000 years ago gave rise to city states and democracy a lot of things that we view as being important to our present day civilization. But the evidence shows that the Greeks were educated by the Egyptians. Most people may not be aware of it the Greeks learned what they held important from the Egyptians. The same with the Sumerians. In Sumer 5,000 years ago they were writing, they were making laws, teaching kidst hey had literature recorded. That whole time period is very interesting and we have a lot more to learn about it.
Jerry: The way that myth looks at the world and the way that Eurocentric views are quite different. You say in your book, “Surely, the interaction between two different ways of thinking is the essence of myth itself.”
Looking at two different ways of thinking is different than the European way. And the so called primitive; they are really the advanced way of the myths.
I have another quote, “At each level of interpretation, literal, allegorical, hieroglyphic and esoteric, these myths express opposing forces that underlie our personal struggles for coherence. When contradictory elements appear, they invite a possible synthesis, which Jung called enantiodromia.”
My studies tell me that the mythological way of looking that things is to look at the dualities or opposing forces and allow them both to exist and somehow transcend them. The European way, which is the western way in North America, you are either or. Its not a synthesis of opposing forces. You are either a liberal or a conservative, a fan of one a hockey team or other, male or female.
Paul: You are either wearing the white Stetson as the good guy or the black Stetson as the bad guy.
Jerry: Yeah, there is no in between. And that seems to be Eurocentric view. Do the myths talk about synthesis of opposing views.
Paul: Primarily we look at creation myths. Our concept of creation in creation myths are the moments where we are the void and we start to differentiating within that void. Going back to the Sumerian myths from 5,000 years ago, talk about the separation of the heaven from the earth or the land from the water. This is a common theme through many, many myths. Yes we see the initial creation has to be something coming out of the void. Duality, if I understand the term correctly, coming out of this homogenous undifferentiated being that I am. We see this as the first step of creation. But to get beyond that, analogous to higher consciousness, we have to let the two sides co-exist. Our view of enantiodromia is the reconciliation of opposites so one has to get a higher level to allow the two opposites to exist; love – hate, male - female. Those are all evident only at a certain level. Because if you get above it (male – female) we are all people. As an example of the reconciliation of opposites. You are right, the western world like to jump on one and identify one not the other. We think there is more to be seen.
We can talk about Gilgamesh.
Jerry: Yeah, go ahead and talk about that one. That would be great.
Paul: The Sumerians had the Gilgamesh myth about 2,500 years BCE. We know it primarily because of the Babylonians writing it down 1000 years after the Sumerians had it well formed. But you can read on the ETCSL site the Sumerian literature which talks about Gilgamesh a demi-god and his companion Enkidu. We see that the two sides of ourselves; the demi-god like and the animal side of Enkidu the hairy man from the forest. The story goes on that Gilgamesh is causing trouble and then he meets Enkidu. Together they partnered to do great things, the kill the bull of heaven and cut down the great forest. In the end Enkidu dies. Even though Gilgamesh is an enviable character, a demi-god that we would love to be. He notices the lack of his other side – his animal side. And he starts yearning for immortality. After Enkidu dies, he sets off by himself to find the key to immortality. Again he does a number of incredible feats. Towards the end of the story, he holds in his hands a flower given to him which is his ticket to immortality so he wouldn’t die. But after all the has gone through with Enkidu and the loss of Enkidu and what he has done himself, he lies down by a pool of water, falls asleep and a snake snatches it away. The whole image of this great hero fall asleep and losing what he has worked his whole life for relates so strongly to my own moments of falling asleep whether it is trying to be aware of my breathing or any of my other higher aspirations. We look at Gilgamesh as highlighting these two sides that when they work together can do great things, but yet as an individual I still fall asleep, I still forget and I still lose thatwhat I am after – that immortality I am after.
Jerry: Yeah, it is so great to make it personal, to bring it to exactly your personal experiences.
Paul: Otherwise it is just a story of far away and that doesn’t engage me. But when I am reading it and I am trying to remember my moments of awakening and sleeping it is a much more powerful tool.
Jerry: Do you go to a lot of movies? A lot of movies are based on myths and they just bring them up to date and place them into modern life.
Paul: Its like Ring Around the Rosie. These things have been around for a long time and they finding different ways that they can be used in that way. Star Wars is full of good – evil, getting to the higher. There is a lot of imagery there that is available to a culture.
Jerry: I think that is something your book can do or even this conversation. You can invite people to look at, not just myths, but everything, as it applies to them personal. It could be a popular movie too as so many are based on stories and mythology. This whole idea to make it personal. How does it apply to my life? On one hand movies and the reading of myths could be an escape, but they can be turned around and made quite personal.
Paul: Again I go back to that we are not searching for the right level, but all of these stories exist on many levels.
Jerry: At the same time. Right. What I quoted earlier, the interaction of two ways of thinking and the transcendence of them which allows them both to exist rather than taking an either or. A myth has to be either exoteric or esoteric, its both at the same time. For me it is an important way for me to look at the world in general.
Paul: The world is more interesting then.
Jerry: Something else I’ll quote here about the study of opposites. I think I’ll read this one from page 88 in your book. I should mention your book again before the show ends, Awaking Higher Consciousness: Guidance from Ancient Egypt and Sumer by Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R. Boudreau. We are talking to Paul Boudreau and we have a few more minutes left. The website is awhico.com.
Paul: People can do a Google search for awhico to find facebook, twitter and all of the other ways of communicating.
Jerry: I am going to read this from page 88, “It is, of course, the age-old problem of communication, that serves to remind us of the duality of all our perceptions – esoteric and exoteric, internal and external, reality and illusory, etc. , This external study of myth can help one to find the place within us that is discovered through them. The study of such opposites leads to discoveries that are supported by insights that lift us to an unexpected level of understanding, maybe even an awakening of higher consciousness.”
The study of opposites leading to discoveries that can lead to higher consciousness. It is so important to keep this in mind. As an ecologist, does this hold true in ecology.
Paul: Absolutely. The predator-prey. You watch the nature shows. Well some shows are about the wolf that is starving that has to eat the rabbit. Some shows about the rabbit that is trying to survive. Nature is full of that. It is the proper pairing, the proper level of organization that makes it all work. If the predator ate all of its prey and there was none left then the world would come to an stop and vice versa. So finding the right level of seeing these opposites and letting them co-exist is pretty critical to the way we see the world.
Another pair of opposites that we talk about in the book is the Egyptian gods or the Egyptian neters, ntrs - the Egyptian gods Heka and Maat . Again apparently opposite. Maat is the Egyptian god of order, truth and justice. If people are aware of Egyptian gods, Maat is often mentioned because we order, truth and justice and Maat stood for all of that in Egyptian society. We bring out Heka the balancing force of Maat. And the balancing force in the Egyptian order and justice was magic. We find that Heka and Maat are often found together in these creation myths. So order, justice and truth – goes back to what I was saying about the initial movement of creation that recognizes the difference and identifies theparts of the void, but we see magic as essential to the whole process of life the whole process of creation. We spend a bit of time on Heka and Maat because we feel it a shame that one is supported in our modern Western world, but magic is certainly not supported in common thought. Maybe it’s too frightening for people to think about. As ecologist there is a magic in the world that has to be functioning to balance the order, ridge center line of truth and justice.
Jerry: Magic – what a buzzword for people. Can you talk a little bit more about magic? What else can you say about it? People use that word a lot. It has something to do with something transcendent, something that can’t be described, something that has to do with grace or a gift for nature. What else? Those are my words.
Paul: They are certainly not spells in terms of incantations and external things. Magic comes as close to describing my own awakening as anything. I don’t know why those moments are any different than any other moments that I’ve lived. Magic comes to help me appreciate that there is something there. I could say luck or good fortune, but it is certainly something that is unknown. There is an unknown that we should be paying more attention to in our lives. There is an intangible force. You know the phrase “love makes the world go round.” I don’t think you can describe love in terms of atoms, attraction of molecules. I see love on the order of magic and it can do great things for people in their lives.
Jerry: You mentioned the void out of which dualities and opposites of existence seem to arise. Magic sounds like something that comes in between the void and the ordinary world to bring the two together.
Paul: It happens so quickly and then we move on.
If I may – one of my earliest recollections of live has to do with Christmas time. I was a young boy and I was looking out the window and Santa Claus walked down the street. I remember waking up with a great force to note that I wasn’t in bed and Iwasn’t going to get any gifts. This was at a very young age long before I was actively studying myths. I don’t even know if I could read back then. I don’t know how else to capture what happened in that moment as a young child that made me aware that I am here. It was my first memory of “I was.” Magic - that comes as close to describing it as anything I can image. At that point there was a little boy, Santa Claus and all my wishes for gifts. But there was a moment when “I was.” It was quite a powerful moment for me.
Jerry: It is that realization – not everyone has it – some have other experiences, but that realization that I was or I am, maybe everyone does experience it but not everyone values it.
Paul: Some people notice it and forget. Some people don’t pay it enough attention. There lots of different ways to respond to it. Luck, magic, grace - whatever it is, thatis very helpful to me when I approach myths and the myths reinforce those moments in my life. This is how the ancients tried to capture these moments and this makes sense to me as an adult as I try to interpret what I saw. Otherwise it is hard to put words to it. It is hard to realize that those moments happened.
Jerry: And if a person wants to be reminded of it or investigate that moment of “Beingness” or “I am-ness”, the myths are a way of re-exploring or re-investigating.
Our time is up. Paul Boudreau believe it or not for the radio show. I want to thank you very much Paul Boudreau author of Awakening Higher Consciousness: Guidance from Ancient Egypt and Sumer. The book is co-authored by Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R Boudreau. Both of them living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Ordering information is at awhico.com.
I just want to read a nice passage that sums things up from page 148 of your book, “The essential wisdom expressed in these myths is that the need for wholeness, or oneness, is the most basic, innermost longing of humans as individuals.” That bears on that investigation of this sense of“I was” or “I am.”
And you write, “Without any sensitivity to or awareness of our individual natures, and the consequent superseding of self-interest, we are condemned to a state of disregard and entropy, which leads to an eventual destruction of society.”
That brings it to the societal level. So far we have been talking about individuals.
“Our present-day lack of perception of this basic need can only lead to disaster.” This lack of perception of this basic need to understand our wholeness.
“Without the intervention of an higher influence that can fill the place left by our current ignorance of ancient wisdom, it is difficult to see how Western civilization can survive on the basis of technical sophistication alone.” So mythology teaches the individual to restore wholeness and the same for our civilization and our culture.
Thanks you again.
Paul: Thank you very much Jerry. Its been a great pleasure.
Jerry: Really enjoyed it. You have been listening to NonDuality Talk. Our website is nonduality.org.