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Peter Wilberg

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Jul. 19th, 2011 | 09:20 am

One of the triggers for changing my journal name here has been discernible changes in the orientation of the writing of Peter Wilberg. A few years ago, when I was looking for images of Kali yantras to use as profile pics here, I came across a beautiful yantra that included the name Vishuddha Kali. As I traced that image to its origins online, I discovered the work of the Russian dark ambient musician Vishuddha Kali (sometimes spelled Vishudha Kali), a.k.a. Andrei Komarov or Andrei Bouline, as well a rather comical photo of a Western man who referred to himself as Acharya Peter Wilberg. It may be that I had already encountered Peter Wilberg's work while researching depression online. There is a website owned by Marianne Broug from Australia, The Meaning of Depression, that contained some of Wilberg's early work. In any event, his work became a focus through which I began to explore what might broadly be called existential psychology as an adjunct to--and eventually in place of--the various approaches to interpersonal therapy I had been exploring, generally with a good deal of disappointment and frustration.

As I wrote the above, it occurred to me that it wasn't necessarily the therapy itself that needed to be interpersonal, but rather that I was in need of practices of awareness (psychological and/or spiritual) that might have positive effects on my interpersonal relationships. It seems to me that, for many people, the interpersonal aspect of conventional therapy often becomes a substitute for, or distraction from, the nature of interpersonal relationships in the rest of one's life, and as a result little to no healing occurs in important interpersonal relationships. Similarly, spiritual pursuits--especially those that feature a good deal of idealism--can become diversions from facing challenging interpersonal situations, even if they don't introduce outright pathological interpersonal situations into one's life, thus compounding already difficult circumstances in the rest of one's life.

In any event, Wilberg's work provided some valuable leads for me. I liked his exploration of the potential meanings of Shiva and Kali in particular. Even though I was an initiated Amma devotee, and she was supposed to be an embodiment of Kali, I wasn't feeling the focused awareness of that essence that I was hoping to find. I think this was probably one reason why I began to return to modernist philosophies, psychologies, and artistic expressions, which seemed to hold direct experiences of "darkness" in focus, without so much of the moralism that seemed to weigh down primarily religious approaches. From his work I began to explore the work of R. D. Laing, of whom I had already become aware from other sources (such as the writings of Robert Firestone and the use of texts by Laing in some of the music of Joji Yuasa). This exploration led to an exploration of the writings of living British psychologist David Smail, which gave a bit more focus to a Leftist approach to social power dynamics.

I also found that Wilberg's blog posts about issues such as the 2008 Gaza invasion or excerpts from The Invisible Committee's The Coming Insurrection had an energizing effect on me, and caused me to question more deeply the political complacency (and therefore implicit--or even explicit--conservatism) of the people in my spiritual community. In seeking more information on The Invisible Committee, I discovered articles online by publications such as The New Internationalist and Adbusters. This introduced me to the existence of contemporary "collectives" as sources of news and editorial comment. All of this was leading to a gradual but persistent questioning of my own level of political and social awareness.

Nonetheless, there were some questionable tendencies in some of Wilberg's writings that made me uncomfortable. In personal email correspondence he strongly suggested I read some websites and/or view some YouTube videos about certain economic practices that supported his notion of (what might loosely be called) a conspiracy that he referred to as The Monotheism of Money. Some of these sources called to mind aspects of Nazi anti-Semitic notions of economic conspiracy. Wilberg is half Jewish and seems to be anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, and anti-anti-Semitic (though critical of the policies of the State of Israel). One self-description that he offered was that of "Tantric Hindu Gnostic Christian Socialist Jew." He did, however, make references to Julius Evola in several of his publications (while passing over Evola's fascist ideology in silence) and has expressed a tendency to lionize Heidegger, while making only slight mention of the latter's Nazi involvement. He has also had a tendency to present rather vulgarized myths as if they are unquestionable facts (e.g., the secret life of Jesus in India, the Seth material of Jane Roberts) and then to castigate respondents to his blog if they call these sources--or rather, his unquestioning acceptance of them--into question. He also engaged in a lengthy correspondence with a rather vulnerable woman (who happens to be a morphine addict), helping to "deprogram" her from her attachment to her late guru, Sri Chinmoy, only to set her up in an exalted position within his own guru kula. He published this correspondence (with her permission) and, while I found it useful in exploring my own relationship to my spiritual communities, I felt the project to be somewhat manipulative on his part.

He has started a number of websites, each devoted to a different facet of his project, and I wondered how many of these things he could practice in a steady and practical way. I wondered, for example, if he could truly function as a psychotherapist, or if his ideas were mainly criticisms of ways in which therapy is frequently practiced, and even then how many of these criticisms were simply derivative of the work of other people. One recent website offers healing meditation for people who suffer from medical problems. The most troubling thing, however, was a recent blog post in which he declared Eurasianism to be the natural counterpart to his main focus, which he calls The New Yoga. From its title, I expected his article to be a reference to Blavatskian Theosophy, but instead its main references were the contemporary Russians Alexandr Dugin and Nicolai Levashov. Just a little bit of internet research turned up some very disturbing things about both of these men, who seem to be engaged in far-Right mysticism. On top of that, Wilberg has started (online at least) a Third Positionist political party in the U.K. His article was full of references to a rather crude Ariosophy, and the Dugin website to which he provided a link looked both creepy and ridiculous. Levashov is an evident charlatan and a failed "faith healer." There was also reference to the Book of Veles, which majority mainstream opinion seems to regard as a rather crude forgery. I recognized a number of these elements from Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's book, The Occult Roots of Nazism, and was shocked that I would have had online communication with someone who would be so into that kind of stuff.

Even though I am repulsed by this "turn" in Wilberg's work (even though, upon closer examination, it is not entirely without precedent), I have taken this as an invitation to learn more about current Rightist discourse so as to try to disentangle my decades-long interest in spiritual and esoteric ideas from undesirable political associations. Currently I'm reading the issue of Russian Politics and Law devoted to Eurasianism (47/1, 2009) in order to get more perspective on these developments. I've been interested in Russian culture since I first saw the film Doctor Zhivago in the late 60s. I even took it upon myself to learn how to decipher the Russian alphabet and taught myself a few rudiments of the language, connecting this to my Slovak and Polish heritage on my mother's side. In fact, a visit to Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic with my father in 2009 gave a sharper focus to my awareness of political trends in post-Soviet Russia and the surrounding area. I felt uneasy with the assertion (or implication) on the part of some of the tourists and/or tour guides that "democracy" had unambiguously won the day in the "new" Central Europe. Something didn't feel right in what I observed in these countries. I then followed up by reading items on the website of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) and connected things I was reading there to domestic issues, such as are tracked by the Hatewatch of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). I had gradually become aware of virulent racism, homophobia, and anti-feminism in my late mother's attitudes and somehow, setting foot in Central Europe helped me to situate some of those attitudes within that cultural setting, even though she had never visited those countries herself, but had merely absorbed such attitudes from her upbringing in her ethnic community within the States.

Around the time of the final stages of my mother's illness and death, I found myself drawn more and more to dark ambient music. It's difficult in this culture to maintain frequent contact with troubling feelings such as those related to grief, and there was something about this music that facilitated that process and actually soothed those feelings slightly by indirectly validating them--similarly to the existential or depth-psychological approach advocated by Wilberg among others. So far, so good. However, it gradually became clear to me that dark ambient was one of the genres that had been implicated in the dissemination of some far-Right ideologies within youth culture, especially in Europe. So, after the shock of Wilberg's advocacy of Eurasianism, I looked into the music of Vishuddha Kali a little more closely and discovered one album in particular that seemed to articulate an unmistakably far-Right mysticism. Let's face it: the Kali yantra that acted as a connection to both Wilberg and Vishuddha Kali contains a swastika, and that can be interpreted in a number of ways. So, again, I felt uncomfortable associating myself through name and image with someone who is involved with a ritualized ideology that I find repulsive. It may be just a matter of utter folly and nonsense, but even if it's ultimately harmless, there is an ugliness to it that I don't care for. And further, having done some really tough critical work on a number of aspects of my life recently, I thought it might be good to loosen my ties with the heavy iconography of Kali, at least for a time.

I'm grateful for the understandings that have come about through my study of Hinduism over the last few years, but I'm also concerned about political and economic situations in several places in the world at the present time, and feel that I should continue to devote some attention to increasing my awareness of those things.

I think this is all I want to write for now.

Peace,

ak

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