Thursday, January 20, 2022

Mpowerdance Presents "Survivors Dreaming 2021" - Richard Power on "Secret Engine of the World" (SFTS Lodge, November 2021)

"Secret Engine of the World: Further Notes on Primal Reality, Gaian Politics & the Arc of Human Evolution"
by Richard Power. Available via

[NOTE: Late last year, I was honored to deliver a presentation on my latest book as part of Mpowerdance Project's "Survivors Dreaming 2021." Held at the legendary San Francisco Theosophical Society (SFTS), this three night gala featured Art Exhibits, Dance Performance, Spoken Word, Live Music and Group Discussion. It marked the first in-person meeting of the SFTS since the beginning of the pandemic. Here is an embedded You Tube video of my segment, along with an edited transcript. More poignant artifacts documenting this powerful event are forthcoming from the Mpowerdance Project. - Richard Power] 

“Don’t bury the lede.” That’s one of the most important rules in journalism. “Don’t bury the lede.” (The New York Times, BTW, violates this rule quite often.) Well, I am not going to.

Secret Engine of the World” is about three deadlines. Two deadlines for us as citizens of this nation. And one deadline for us as a species on this planet. The deadlines for us as a nation were two years away, and four years away, when I wrote this book. Now they are one year away and three years away. These deadlines are 2022 and 2024. The deadline for us as a species, and for this planet, was ten years away, now it’s nine years away.

So that’s the lede.

What am I talking about?

Without getting into politics, we don’t talk about politics here, without getting into ideology, in terms of 2022 and 2024, I am talking about a mental health crisis we are having in this country, and a mass psychosis that is threatening the future of our country, and therefore, the future of the world, and I am talking about diseases that have been with us since the beginning of our country, racism and misogyny … We are at a crisis point as a people, and the direction we take will be decided in the 2022 and 2024 elections …

And then as a planet, we face the Climate Emergency, the Sixth Great Extinction, a global ecological crisis. We know what the impact of our footprint has done, how much it has disrupted, how much it has destroyed, how much it threatens, including our own species.

I started talking about climate change thirty years ago. I remember saying we had thirty years, I remember saying we have twenty years, I remember saying ten years, now it’s nine … Even to say nine or ten years is a stretch, but there really is still a window of nine or ten years, a window of opportunity to make a difference – beyond that there will still be life, but our options will be severely limited …

So that is the lede, but there is a third element to this book, it explores those three deadlines, yes, but it also explores how to live anyway, win or lose, and I do look at it as win or lose.

Whatever happens, we have to celebrate this time, we have to live our lives, and take this time to deepen our inquiry into the nature of our own beings, to savor our experience of life, and to do what we can for all that we love.

That’s what “Secret Engine” is about.

After “Wyrds of Power” and “I, the Dragon,” which are both over 400 pages (and published within a year of each other), people would ask me, “Are you working on a new book?”

And I would answer, “NO!”

I had no desire to do any more writing for some time.

Nevertheless, after answering this question with an adamant “NO!” for a while, I realized I had to add, “but there is one organizing itself.”

And that would turn out to be “Secret Engine of the World.”

My friend Rhani, one of the first people to read “Secret Engine,” said, “This book is different than the rest, it’s like an epilogue.”

“Yes,” I said, “it is like an epilogue isn’t it?”

But not the kind of epilogue you can’t read until after you’ve read the others, no, it’s the kind of epilogue that says, “you can just read this, if you don’t read the other books, you can just read this, and then if you want to drill down into the other two you can, but whatever you do read this one." It’s that kind of epilogue.

This talk is in one sense going to be like a time capsule …

In 2010, the inner Voice said, “It’s time to make your move.” I’ve written about all of that in both “Dragon” and “Wyrds.” So I won’t go into much, except to say, in my consciousness, “making” my “move” didn’t mean writing a book, I made a list of three tasks I had to do, and one of them was to give a series of three talks here at this Lodge.

That series of three talks led to a series of seven talks and all of that lead to this book, “Between Shadow and Night: The Singularity In Search of Itself.“

This was 2010. “The Singularity In Search of Itself.”

At that time, there was a lot of conjecture, a raging debate, about the potential for a Singularity in the rising of Artificial Intelligence and a lot of concern about unintended consequences of it taking on a life of its own. But in these discussions, I would point out, you know, the Singularity you ought to be more concerned about is arising in the human species itself. We are something that has not happened before, and we are this strange mix of ignorance and genius, and out of this strange mix a Singularity is arising. And we don’t know what will happen, what will emerge from this Singularity.

So that work led to more talks, and to another process which I have come to call my “Epiphanies.” My friend Brenna said, “Well, what do you call these?” I said, “Someone else would call them ‘poems’ and/or ‘prayers.’” And she said, “What do you call them?” I said, “I call them ‘Epiphanies,’ in the way James Joyce used that word.” “Well," she said, "then call them ‘Epiphanies.’” And so I have, formally, ever since.

By this time, in 2012, I had decided I had to do an “unTED talk” articulating my further explorations of this Singularity arising within our species. I knew, of course, what I had to say would never accepted for a “TED Talk.” The message I was delivering wouldn’t be alignment with the kulchur of TED, which to me always felt like “If we’re just clever enough, and cool enough, and together enough, everything will be alright.” TED to me always felt Pollyannish. That’s why I called it my “unTED” talk. This book, “Humanifesto: A Guide to Primal Reality in An Era of Global Peril” is composed of talks and epiphanies from that period.

I called it “Humanifesto because I didn’t want to call it a “MANifesto,” because the Ascendancy of the Feminine is so essential, so central, to the Great Shift we must undertake if some new version of what we are is to emerge whole and sane from this Singularity.

I really wanted to call it “Woomanifesto,” but I felt that might terrify people.

But then out of all that came more talks, and more epiphanies … These epiphanies would come out of long walks in either the deep forest or in the city, and by the end of the hike, I would literally have to immediately write something down that had arisen during the hike, and it would be a whole cloth, I might refine a phrasing or re-arrange a sentence or two, in writing it down, but they were essentially birthed complete and finished … And, in 2013, out of all of this came “User’s Guide to Human Incarnation: The Yoga of Primal Reality.”

On the cover, that’s the lava flow on the Big Island.

Pele has been present with me through this whole process.

And, lol, it kept going. In 2014, there were more talks, more epiphanies, and from all of this came “Planetary Emergency, Personal Emergence: Path of the Evolutionary.”

So, all of a sudden, there were five books in the course of six years, that came out of this internal instruction.

At that time I was working for Carnegie Mellon University, which is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I worked out here at Moffit Field, down 101.

I had a windowless office inside NASA Ames Research Park.

I had been there for seven years. I could hear the footsteps down the hall. They were coming for me. The administration had changed. The visionary who had hired me was gone. The brilliant researcher he had left in charge was gone. I have an 8th grade education (and a GED, lol), but I ended up a “Distinguished Fellow” in the Engineering Department of a prestigious university. I hadn’t covered up my educational background, and I had been hired for who I was, what I could see and the things that I could do. But I could that the new people in charge were not people who understood what I do. So I left that world, and cleared the slate …

Then I put all of the series of five books into this one book, “Wyrds of Power: New Language for A New Reality,” and published that opus in 2017. So you don’t ever have to bother with those five books anymore, it’s all in “Wyrds of Power.”

When this was all done, it was time to write a story of my life, I say “a story” because I realize there are others ways I could have told the story. And as I assumed it would be, it was a very intense experience to write and publish it, and to read it aloud and speak out on it.

I, the Dragon: Chronicles of An Epic Life Among the Humans.” This was 2018.

So that’s why after putting out these two 400+ page books in 2017 and 2018, and then socializing them through 2019 and 2020, whenever someone asked if I was writing a new book, I would say, “No!” But I still had to admit that one was organizing itself.

What did that mean?

There were fifteen more epiphanies that had to have a home. They were spread all over Instagram and Facebook, but they had to be collected somewhere and held together so they wouldn’t get lost. And there were four or five more talks I had delivered, and then transcribed, that also needed to be collected somewhere. Talks starting from 2016. Delivered during all the upheavals in our country, all that we have had to face: the existential threats, the rise of authoritarianism, the mass psychosis, the coming of the Pandemic, the deepening of the Climate Crisis, the burning of the West, the flooding of the South, all of it … These talks belong together and they too needed to be held somewhere accessible so that people could reference them … I just had to collect them all together and lay them out … Then the cover announced itself. This painting. It’s a Pre-Raphaelite depiction of Lilith. So I’m very fond of it. It just announced itself one night, and I say yes, that’s the cover. It’s Lilith combing her hair and looking at herself in a handheld mirror … And the title came from one of those fifteen epiphanies … It all organized itself …

Recently, I have been pondering the nature and function of stupas.

All through the East, there are stupas.

It’s like lightening a candle on an altar, you do it, you know why, but then all of a sudden it takes on a new reality - deeper, vaster. They’ll build a stupa around the bones of a saint. They’ll build a stupa and stuff it full of scrolls, rattles, drums, bells and ashes, everything holy … You go on pilgrimage to the stupas, you circumambulate the stupas, pray in front of the stupa, live around the stupa … stupas are concentrations of energy, reservoirs of power …

All of us in our own ways are building our own etheric stupas: it might be a body of profound yoga teachings that you are translating from the 19th century and the 20th century, from the patriarchy, and from the East, into a planetary language, a feminist language, for the 21st century, it might be someone whose life journey has gone from circumambulating Arunachala to playing the great golf courses of the world, it might be a person who has led a life of dance and art to inspire people with the beauty and vision in their work, but all of us really are building stupas in our living, in which we are collecting relics, objects of vibration and holiness …

And it occurred to me that those five books that went into “Wyrds” are like the building blocks of a pyramid. The Pyramid at Giza is, after all, the ultimate stupa – a trans-historical stupa, an interstellar stupa, an inter-dimensional stupa. That’s one of the things that the Pyramid is … So I started to see “Wyrds” as my pyramid, and “Dragon” as the Sphinx that guards the portal that opens there … Then I wondered, well, what is “Secret Engine” in relation to the Pyramid and the Sphinx? Oh yes, “Secret Engine” is the map that shows were the hidden chambers are …

That clicked for me.

There is another aspect of the Pyramid that I have been pondering recently, in relation to all of this, our lives in this time of trail and tribulations, and the incredible poignancy and joy of just being alive and sharing a few moments together, all of the potential that is here …

Have you seen “The Pyramid Code” on Netflix or You Tube?

It is a series of five documentaries on the Pyramid ...

In the course of the series, they interview the "Mystical Wisdom-Keeper” Abd’el Hakim Awyan and he shares the oral history of the Egyptian pyramids. This isn’t woo-woo colonizer theorizing, this is an indigenous person sharing an oral history handed down … twenty two pyramids, running north to south, parallel to the Nile, establishing a zone they called “the Band of Peace,” and then within that “Band of Peace,” one of the pyramids with three chambers, in which they were doing healing with Sound, and another pyramid with two chambers, in which they were working with Sound, with Vibration …

So what I wanted to bring to you tonight is this sense of building your own stupa … Even if the meaning you are putting into your stupa is meaninglessness, you know, an existentialist stupa would have meaninglessness in it, and it would be a profound teaching, one that Gautama Buddha would certainly understand … It is all meaning, it is all power, whether it is music, or raising children, launching an enterprise, whatever it is, we are building stupas, concentrating energy …

    Piprahwa Stupa, Kapilavastu, Uttar Pradesh, India, One of the Earliest Surviving Stupas
Along with this consciousness of building a stupa out of your life experience, I want you to remember what Hakim, the “Mystical Wisdom-Keeper,” shared about those pyramids, and working with holy S-O-U-N-D to heal through vibration, and find your own voice.

The legendary American sage Joe Miller, who I call my “Yoda,” bellowed over and over: “Don’t pay any attention to what I say, just feel what’s radiating out of my heart.” After he was gone, I would often point out to people, “you know, he SAID that, he used words to communicate to you the truth that you can’t find it in words.” Yes, because it’s flowing out of his heart and he’s formulating words, because “in the beginning was the word …” Word is Sound, Word is Vibration. When they cast a spell in Harry Potter they using the power of the Word. And when we use Mantra, we are using the power of the Word. So many are preoccupied with the Third Eye. As I have said over and over, we live in a Third Eye civilization. Enough already with the Third Eye. The power of the Throat Chakra is so under-appreciated and under-utilized.

Vishuddha (Throat Chakra)

Yes, BUILD YOUR OWN STUPA, your own etheric stupa, build it out of your experiences, your meaning, your gifts, your challenges, your memories, your dreams, and ... 

FIND YOUR OWN VOICE. Because when you do, yes, in one way you will be articulating philosophically, psychologically, but in another way, what's coming out of you will be pure SHAKTI.

I will close with this short reading (one of the "Epiphanies") from “Secret Engine of the World” –

What are you called? Bruja? Baul? Bodhisattva? Tantrika? Aghori? Troubadour? Dakini? Bhakta? Curandera? Yogini? Wizard? Sorceress? These are all just cover stories. Your true designation is beyond human speech. Authentic, mystical love, real love, is the secret engine of the world. But this authentic, mystical love, this real love, does not act like fire or water; it does not incinerate or drown that which it encounters. Authentic, mystical love, real love, moves like a vast glacier; whatever it does not crush or bury, it pushes forward. Yes, this love glacier levels mountains and forges canyons, it breaks the unbreakable and reshapes the earth. The love glacier is so massive that it takes a lifetime just to glimpse it, and even then, it can only be seen as far as the horizon; it moves so slowly it is almost undetectable, and so it takes a lifetime to measure its grinding progress. Authentic, mystical love does not act like fire or water; it does not incinerate or drown that which it encounters. this love moves like a vast glacier; whatever it does not crush and bury, it pushes forward. This is the secret engine of the world. How utterly empty and free you must be to revel in the movement of this glacier, knowing that all you have ever had or wanted will be torn up and ground under, and that then in the glacier's aftermath there will be only a long fathomless silence, in which you will be no more than the shadow of a raven on the white stillness of the deep snow. -- Richard Power, "Secret Engine of the World: Further Notes on Primal Reality, Gaian Politics & the Arc of Human Evolution" (July 2021). Available from