I’m a retired psychologist and college professor. I moved to the Philippines for many reasons, among them the incredible sweetness of essence I noticed in my Filipino students.
While retired, I’ve been talking to and chronicling an indigenous Philippines sorcerer. We had been excellent friends for almost eight years.
Now, he has since left Cebu City for Mindanao as of August 2017, and I miss him. But, I’m hopeful he’ll return.
I have many notebooks full of his material, vast teaching, and I’m trying to connect it all accurately in accordance to what he meant to say. He spoke good English but took a long time for me to understand his terminology in relation to his spirituality.
His name is Arik (pronounced Aur-rik) from the Manobo tribe of Northern Mindanao. I met him here in Cebu City, Philippines. We had been meeting three or four times a week at our houses and restaurants, parks and beaches. He has profound insights into people as a result of his tribal and spiritual school’s teachings and traditions.
His insight into human psychology was totally new to me in its revelations and mind-blowing — miraculous to me in its depth and weight. I thought I’d humbly share it with all of you. Arik asked me to publish his teachings so it will be a book soon.
The word ‘Sorcerer’ still seemed a little pretentious to me. I had suggested as many synonym words to Arik as I could think of. I wanted to call him a ‘Priest’, but Arik refused. I think the word creeped Arik out, because of the common associations with holiness and ritual, or the Catholic Church.
One by one I suggested names: ‘Magician, Master, Wizard, Seer, Diviner, Shaman, Sage, Adept, Magus… Arik was proficient with the English language as a result of his advanced studies in Manila, so he understood all the descriptions. But, he was known as simply ‘Teacher’ to his peers and students in the Philippines. So we narrowed it down to 2 words ‘Teacher or Sorcerer’. Arik liked the word ‘Sorcerer’ because what he taught and was taught, was a ‘very uncommon knowledge’ — whereas a Teacher deals with practically any type of knowledge. So there we left it.
Days before leaving for Mindanao, Arik asked me to publish his teachings in a book. He left for the Mindanao mountains on August 28, 2017.
The Bell of Truth and Cave Drum
Arik, Nyle and myself had ventured up into the Cebu mountains for a camping trip. We had brought my zebra multi-cab. Also, we had packed several ice chests, a tent and sleeping bags. Nyle drove my multi-cab always when we were out with Arik.
I choose NOT to drive in the Philippines, or I’d be a candidate for a mental institution. I’m retired now, and cannot fool around with trying to drive here in this bedlam. Driving is a stress and aggravation I hoped to abandon forever, besides Nyle was a great driver. He had just passed his medical board exams and had been a long-time student of Arik’s.
In writing this, I remember I had been only the second year of my tutelage with Arik. After our meetings, I immediately wrote into my journal all that transpired.
That day we had set a large tent up on a clearing of land belonging to a friend of Arik’s. It was a clearing within the jungle with a lovely view of metropolitan Cebu City below. It was night and the lights flickered together like a giant luminous spider clinging to the black coastal ocean.
We had a bunch of nice food we brought from Cebu City. Fried chicken, pancit, lumpia and a big bucket of that damned white rice they consider essential.
We were burning sandalwood incense in the tent all night to kill ‘lamoks’ (mosquitoes). I was astonished on how effective it was.
I remember we had fun and were drinking Tanduay ‘five years’ rum with Coca-Cola or pineapple juice on ice most of the night. We were talking about Nyle’s experience following drumbeats into a cave. Nyle had me blown away with the many new wonders he saw. Tomorrow we would do just that.
“Wake up!” Arik shouted, “For what we have to do today is to go deep. It may be very painful, but then, again,” he chuckled, “You might find it educational!”
Arik had his thin, muscular arm on my shoulder, shaking me awake, pulling me up from my sleeping bag and handing me a cup full of black coffee.
“This Cave drum practice is many centuries old — even before the Philippines existed.” He said
Nyle had just brought a nice large fire to life in the clearing outside the tent. They had been here many times before, I could tell. It was still dark, I guessed about 4am. Arik brought out his magnificent hand-carved dark wooden drum. I liked drums because I had been a professional performing drummer part-time during my life in the USA.
But, this would be an entirely new experience, with an entirely new drum. I’ve seen the drum before at Arik’s apartment. I dared not ask Arik to play it, for I could tell he held it in reverence.
We sat on these little Filipino stools we had brought, around the hefty fire. Arik instructed us to follow the drumbeats into ‘our cave’, with our eyes closed, and try to register and record our experiences.
The Cave was a natural visualization that commenced after the steady beats of the drum were started. We would ‘travel’ into the cave we visualized in accordance with the speed of the drumbeats. All the while, keeping our eyes closed. Arik says the darkness of the cave entered the Pit of pain.
Nyle was sitting reverently and solemnly with his eyes closed across the fire from me.
Arik began with straight beats on his drum, rather quick, but sonorous. “Pum, pum, pum, pum, pum, pum, pum……”
My eyes were closed and I entered a cave. It seemed very interesting that this visualization came so easily as long as had no resistance to it. Initially, I just kept going down, down, down a dark cave, very quickly. Turning sharply at forks at high speed.
Then I began to see white faces with their mouths moving passing me by as I descended. Then they began talking:
“You’re living with a terrorist. But the terrorist is not you.”
Over and over it went. That phrase was burnt into my memory because of the many repeated chants they gave. Arik had admonished us not to think associatively or do any mental analysis of was seen, sensed, or heard — and to focus on the sound of the Drum only.
I wondered how the hell each beat of Arik’s drum was formed into the words!? Then I heard Arik yelling at me, “Focus, dammit”.
Again, I saw how short my attention span was. Arik was always trying to wake me up from reveries by insisting I be aware of being aware at all times.
The cave walls were reflecting a light up ahead.
Suddenly, I saw faces of dead friends pass me slowly by; David, Laura, Joanie, Rex, father, mother, pass me slowly as the Drumbeat. “Pum pum pum…”, the drum went on.
I became very emotional and wanted to talk with them.
Then I saw my face, I saw it as my whole self.
It was my face with many spikes like hair, protruding out and upward. The only way I could describe it was like a razorback or porcupine. It was grey and dripping with a darker grey material.
I had first seen this face of mine while travelling to the Bridge the first time one night at Arik’s.
But, why didn’t Arik tell me about this though?! My face had its eyes closed, but then the eyes opened and glistened dull-ly with a dark light.
The paradox was that the hideous face was that of the false person, not me at all — but my long habit of PERSONALIZING everything was still very strong. I had asked Arik once if that were me, and he answered. “Yes and no; you still have to jam the false person out to be totally free. The battle of jammed happens when your free spirit tries to separate once and for all from the false person at the Bridge”. So I still believed that was ‘me’ somehow, and needed a JOLT to break free of loving to ‘un-loving’ the false person.
The drumbeats kept coming, I had passed my head, back into another cave. I was moving fast through caverns. These caverns were the ‘Pit of Pain’ Arik said we all must pass through to get to the other side.
The beats were talking to me:
“How many times have you wanted to escape what you are, Max? You know it. And you’ve tried thousands of methods and they’ve all failed.
The new romance, the new place to live, another dumb trip. They’ve always failed and they always will. Let your hardened heart go! Why did you worship a the idiot? Because everybody did. Really wasn’t your fault.
Already we were ruined. They were crazy-lost. They were already gone. They knew all the answers. The answer was another drink, another flirtation with that good-looking lady or stewardess or waitress on the boat. Already their shallowness had appeared. It occurred to me practically the entire population of this world was as this.
And I sensed it.
Then Arik yelled, “I want you to do more than sense it, I want you to Know it!”
How the hell did Arik know what I was hearing? Seeing and sensing!
I opened my eyes momentarily, and Arik was still stroking the drum from across the fire, with his eyes closed. I wanted to pull out of this altogether, but I sensed it was vital to learn and persevere. Arik had meant for me to continue.
Arik kept playing, “pum pum pum pum…” I closed my eyes and continued.
I saw a gorgeous woman with long dark hair and large brown eyes look directly at me and say,
“You just allow the animals out there and in here scream all they want, Max! What does that have to do with YOU!”
I cried, “but, who is that YOU you are talking about?”
The woman whispered, “wrong question!”
The lady was very beautiful, but I felt an excruciating pain in my neck and shoulders in this place. I wanted to move out of this bad area of the cave. The beats of the drum began to sound like chimes, and I could feel them in my chest. With the beats of the drum, I saw the beautiful woman’s face morph into the faces of my past girlfriends, wives, and finally into the face of my daughter.
They all spoke at once, in a lovely chorus of tones.
They said: “That means you’re going to get yourself out of the way. You’re going to have the courage to drop all your bad habits of loving the darkness and remind yourself that you have been deceived. That will help you remember that you don’t want to be deceived anymore.
“Wait patiently and with extreme alertness. Yield!! And finally, finally, just wait until Free spirit knows and understands that the Creator of Life has come toward you. Because there is never any agitation in that. There is only purity, and innocence and there’s only quiet. Let quietness and truth come to you. Let heaven appear before your eyes and the promise is that it will appear always in your Being. Yield.”
“Yield!”, Arik shouted at me.
What! How the heck did Arik hear what the women were saying! This was too much! The pain in my shoulders and neck was almost unendurable.
Arik’s Drum continued, “pum pum pum….”.
I had left this part of the cave in accordance with the speed of the beats.
I went zipping through another cavern and I looked down. Wow! I found I was riding a huge luminous bird with golden scales! It felt benevolent and I guessed it to be my free spirit. Arik had told me I’d find my free spirit during the journey through the caverns of the Pit of Pain. But I didn’t know I’d be riding a huge golden bird with shimmering scales and glowing in the darkness.
Then through the cave, coming towards us, I saw a golden triangle spinning and tumbling in the air, moving gradually our way as we moved through the cave in the darkness.
As it approached us, my bird quickly turned its chest towards the hurling triangle. I could feel the impact of the triangle on the bird’s chest being absorbed without much of a jolt, and the bird levelled out in flight with me on its back. Then we flew upwards into darkness.
At this time, the beats coming from Arik’s Drum were sounding like bells or chimes. I could feel the bells striking, reverberating and vibrating in my chest. The pain finally subsided in my neck and shoulders.
The next thing I remember is waking up from sleep — numb, still sitting propped up by my knees on that wretched little Filipino stool. Then Arik approached me, slapping me gently in the face.
“Wake up, man!
“Well, Max, your body tells me you’ve connected with the bell of truth today. Very good, It seems your conscience was speaking to you.”
“What a ride, Arik!”, I exclaimed.
I stood up and was amazed that the pain was 100 per cent gone.
Later, over coffee, I recounted to Arik and Nyle everything I had seen through the caverns of the pit.
The sun was rising on a panoramic view of Cebu City, the ocean of the Camotes Sea, and Camotes Island off into the haze. The Philippines was so beautiful!
Arik began: “Your free spirit bird is covered with golden scales, correct? It is reassembling itself, the triangle was the bird reclaiming a scale. You have left many scales of the bird tossed about strewn and scattered were you harmed someone or yourself during your past. Mother? Father? Sisters or brothers, who else? You must track this back if you want to repair your past.
Harming others is the same as harming oneself. They are exactly the same thing, by the way.
I was astonished, “That triangle was a scale of the bird?”, I said, “How is that so, Arik?”
“Where you were harming yourself or anyone else thru your life? You begin to see clearly the episode and acknowledge it inside the Pit. This releases attention for your free spirit. The bell of truth guides your free spirit to the place where your attention was trapped. Your bell liberated that scale through your paying with your pangs of pain and pangs of conscience and desire for contrition. You have been making payment through pain.”
But, Arik, that scale belonged to the bird!”
“Don’t you know? YOU ARE that bird, gunggong! (Filipino for ‘idiot’)
Arik continued: “You are soooo asleep — you need bells to practically shatter your eardrums! You have no awareness of you being so asleep! The bells were painful during your trip. They have to wake you up!
“When you start to drift into hypnosis, your awareness of your pain is the loud bells. Agony, discomfort is the alarm to stay awake. Let the pain be your teacher.
“All of your life, your ideas of ‘rightness’ are so thick you cannot see, hear anything! That is the false person, his conceit- he has to be jammed out. Have a hard shocking look at how the imposter operates. He’s not you — you know this by now. But, because you ‘think it is’, you always remain confused. The face you thought was you, you saw in the Pit is actually the false person! He, ‘it’ is NOT YOU! But, he’s so taken you over, you cannot differentiate it yet!”
Arik then started in a low voice,
“He lies so much, he soothes you to dreamland hypnosis. It is essential you SEE that and squeeze him out. You cannot do it without Higher attention’s help. Don’t look at me, no ‘help’ comes ‘from’ Arik, but only THROUGH Arik. No help comes from any human being, only THROUGH them.
“You perhaps say to yourself ‘This cannot be right! To hate myself and people and family like this’. Remember, that’s the false person talking through you! I say these things because you can TAKE IT. If you can TAKE IT, your free spirit can be liberated.
This you must see! ANY violence you sense is the false person. Movement of hatred is not you. Moralistic self-dramatisation goes on all day in you. A false pleasure. It’s not you, why bind yourself to it!
An electrical shock is attention — that will snap the sleep state. Aware of being aware — the power of this electricity is available for you to stay awake. But, to allow it, put yourself in position to receive it.
“Crazy-lost people can offend you, what does that have to do with you! What does that have to do with me!
“The extinction of the sleeper begins when self-applause for yourself stops. Self methods of will power are using that for self-reward. You are locked in by the false person, frozen in his block of ice. AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT OR SEE IT.
“See, you’ve been conned- because pain still there, even after you making all that money.
“You like candy too much, Max. Phoney invitations. Even when someone is bad for you, you like it! They have told you what to think. That’s how far you have gone. Sugar diet of a self, identity, purpose. Feeling bad — and you got exactly what you wanted! I’m exposing the problem to you. A crowded, occupied life of chaos, and tears simply because it occupies space. In your sleepy nightmare, you’ve filled your life with junk of the false person. You don’t even know it.
“In your absence of perception, you’ve chosen exactly what you have today. A war and the lid is starting to pop off. That’s why you’re crazy-lost in your competition. Without self-knowledge, you do not have a chance!”
“The Filipinos throw trash in the stream — it’s not pretty, is it? The stream should be pure and clean. Like your mind. With self-knowledge, you will stop throwing trash in your own stream. You begin to see you ARE HAPPINESS and live it. You are not supposed to be the way you are. You’ve never known happiness, you’ve only known the sugar.
“See how desperate the false person is! He has you inside a block of ice!
“Why have you been so negligent at the one precious thing you have, your life?”
Arik always gave strong talks. Ruthless at times. If it were coming from someone besides Arik, it would be almost an assault. I knew Arik was always my friend and cared about me. Arik NEVER asked me for anything! He cared about me as a friend and brother, I knew that for a fact.
He was, regardless, a very, very strict teacher. He’d never hesitate to yell or scream to get thru to me.
“Not bad for today, gunggong. I’m sure she gave you a good roughing up though, eh?”
Nyle and Arik began to laugh. Then I felt the love radiating out of Arik to both Nyle and I. It was so palpable that moment, it felt like a warmth.
Arik was very hard on us, but it wasn’t ‘us’ he was hard on. I grew to understand he was only hard on the idiot who had taken us over.
Originally posted in Live in the Philippines and reposted with permission of the author.
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- Journals from an indigenous Philippine sorcerer: Part one - August 3, 2019