four arrows (26)

Anyone who attempts to publish truths that are unspeakable to most of the population, and especially to publish in Education journals, magazines, newsletters, blogs and books that active educators of the mainstream will likely read, knows the frustration of being exiled from discursive communities that are supposed to be professional communities (among others) who care about young learners and the future.

Since 1989 I have been attempting to get published in such places and typically my manuscripts and proposals are exiled from publication and even worse from merely having a dialogue with an educator 'in the system.' There have been a small handful of rare moments where this was not the case and I am grateful, yet, those exceptions ran dry very quickly. It seems educators, in my experience (and, I'll keep this critique aimed at my own Western companions and colleagues), are simply not wanting to talk about fear and its negative impacts--that is, they avoid my distinction as center to my research of labeling the Fear Problem exactly as best I can for all to then do their own research and make up their own damn minds. I could be wrong or exaggerative--then, dialogue with me, let me publish, and we can go from there as any healthy democracy would. Or, am I too idealistic? Well, if I am idealistic in my expectations for educators then I am not alone. Recently, because of my dialogue with Rafiq (aka Robert Lewis) on the FM ning, I went back to search the article out that he and Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs) wrote and published on "Classroom Silence About September 11: A Failure of Education" [1].

I had read their co-authored article in 2011, long before I had heard of Rafiq. It was a time when Four Arrows had approached me in an email about his frustration of being unable to publish this piece. It so happened that I had just had my ms. for an article on pedagogy of fearlessness [2] accepted by a Pakistani journal sort of in Education (on the literary end). Not only was I amazed my article, really a first likely ever on "pedagogy of fearlessness" that I knew of, and certainly the first to get into an education mainstream peer-reviewed international journal--then, I told Four Arrows to perhaps contact the editor [3] which he proceeded to and was successful. I did not know at the time he co-wrote this with Rafiq. Rafiq (2016), in his book writes of his first encounters with Four Arrows in a remote village in Mexico and when reading his book recently I found his story about this episode of being rejected and then finally finding a publisher:

"Between editing jobs I tried to get back to work on this book. But when I looked at the pages I'd written seven months earlier, I didn't like what I read.... I stuck it back in the drawer. Instead I got talked into writing about the attack of 2001 [i.e., 9/11] Four Arrows wanted me to co-author an article with him about the complicity of educators in [not] spreading the official lie about what happened that day. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want the attack inside my head... [all over again]."

"I had no excuse. So I started outline the simple holes in the story that educators refused to look at. I discussed what it meant to have an education system that wouldn't challenge fascist authority. Like the one in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. We finished the paper at the end of December and Four Arrows sent it off to a critical education journal...". (p. 115)

Rafiq (2016) tells more on this story of the paper's destiny and the kinds of (mostly inane) types of criticism they received from reviewers and editors. Then he (again, not knowing me and my role in Four Arrows' career at this time) wrote, 

"So it went. Our article was rejected four times by journals in Canada and the United States. [hmm... is it any surprise Four Arrows and Rafiq both have left the USA and Canada, respectively, to live in Mexico] We wouldn't find a publisher until the end of 2011. The Journal of Critical Inquiry at the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad. One of Pakistan's biggest universities with more than ten thousand students. [and, you may take a moment to reflect on the 'problems' that country has with terrorist regimes, and questionable governments, etc.] Its motto? 'We are taught how to think, not what to think.' [gotta luv that, and wish that was the motto of every classroom in North America, at least] [while Rafiq was teaching writing in Montreal at a college night class] It was my student from Pakistan who'd tipped me off about Osama bin Laden's ties to the CIA. It was fitting that a journal out of Pakistan should publish our paper." (p. 116)

I find this web of interconnections to be a-buzz with aliveness and vigor for searching for the truth... as best we can know it. It is a-buzz with the energy of Four Arrows, Rafiq and many others in the 9/11 "truth movement" and that's partly why I am featuring it in my blog here. I feel deeply connected to this whole thing around 9/11, albeit, my trajectory and focus was somewhat different than most of these critics's voices, because at the time of 9/11, 2001, I was living in Vancouver with my two teenage girls and my life-partner and trying to work on my dissertation research which was all about the "culture of fear" and its negative impacts on education, leadership and everything else--which, no one (more or less) wanted to talk about before 9/11. Then came the great North American (world) extreme dramatization of just how the culture of fear dynamic works (i.e., repression-oppression) in a so-called democratic continent, of the so-called highly developed First World. Hmmm... That's another story I'll leave for some other time, in terms of the reactions of people, within and beyond the academy, to my dissertation work and the consequences of me never getting short-listed for the many jobs I applied for in academia in North America after 2003 when I was ready to find paid work and a career.

Now, the the crux of this blogpost. As I said, I recently re-read the article by Four Arrows and Rafiq (2011) and didn't get passed the Abstract before it struck me that, OMG, I could easily hi-jack the exact words and intent behind these guy's opening words and insert my own (which I have done in square brackets below):


“[U]ncritical belief in the official story” [of Fear’s out-of-control domination] “in light of the many substantiated contradictions to it, makes education’s silence about” [The Fear Problem] “one of its greatest failings for future generations. Educators are responsible to help students do independent research and dialogue about the validity of the official account across many academic disciplines [and beyond them too]”

“This silence does not stem from direct attacks on academic freedom but relates more to a perceived need for self-censorship” [as part of an individual-collective and, respective chronic repression-oppression dynamic, otherwise called a propagandist meta-taboo] 

“This paper is perhaps the first published appeal for more [honest and] courageous engagement with this topic in schools, especially in higher education. This purpose reflects a concern for the state-of-the-world and for future generations, and should not be interpreted as being ‘political’ beyond the fact that any study of this topic would naturally include an analysis of governments and their affairs and motives.” (p. 43)

I hi-jacked their text because it is so intimately intertwined with my own text(s) and 'narrative in the wilderness' over the years since 1989. To see it up there and published in the way they did brought up so much of my own struggles I share in common. There's not more I want to say on this. It speaks for itself, NOT IN SILENCE... and, that's the beauty of being able to write and publish on the Internet--even though, it is disappointing and sometimes frustrating how I can only do this it seems with very small marginal groups and websites (like FMning)--yet, that's no reason not to speak out! As Four Arrows and Rafiq (2016) begin their article's Introduction, how appropriately with an artist in history, they quote Leonardo da Vinci: "Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence" --by which, I know they mean, "authority" that propagandizes, entrances and oppresses.

I also noticed my red ink marks on the front page of their article from when I first read it back in 2011. I was starting to do a basic textual fearanalysis of their piece, and I noted that, they only used the term "fear" 2 times, never mentioned the "culture of fear" nor "climate of fear" etc .[4] And no mention of "fearlessness" or "fearless" and, that got me thinking how strange that was when 9/11 is the archetype of archetypes for the human Fear Problem, if I have ever seen it!

End Notes

1. Four Arrows (aka Jacobs, D. T.) (2011). Classroom silence about September 11: A failure of education? NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry 9(1), 43-58. 

2. Fisher, R. M. (2011). A critique of critical thinking: Towards a critical integral pedagogy of fearlessness. NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry, 9(1), 59-104.

3. The editor Sohaila Javed (for only a very short time; one issue, I believe) for this journal was one of my doctoral candidate colleagues at The University of British Columbia. We had not been close friends, and even had our conflicts around the role of religion in higher education as I recall one time--but, we always kept in touch, and gratitude to her for doing so. And, she invited me and Barbara (my life-partner) to submit articles for this issue she was putting together in Pakistan, a few years after she had graduated from UBC.

4. Four Arrows wrote to me, during the process of trying to find a publisher: "I sent the article off to another magazine in Pakistan as you suggested and have a U.S. author who has read it who says he will publish. But he would be happy [happier] I'm sure to publish a different [watered-down] version. It might get tricky though with Robert [Lewis, aka Rafiq] since he is traveling and not accessible usualy. If Pakistan does not publish it as is, then I'm sure both Robert and I would be very happy for you to take it and play with it any way you want, adding material about fear, etc. We could always resubmit a new version to anyone. I think you could be a player somehow in the project and I'll keep you posted.... I have a vision for a conference on our spirit of fearlessness, CAT-FAWN stuff somehow. More later." (pers. comm., Oct. 28, 2011)

Read more…

A Peek Into a Young Artist’s Days of Fearlessness: Rafiq

-R. Michael Fisher

From time to time I drop out of my philosophical and theoretical fearology work to hone-in on living exemplars (teaching examples and guides), who attempt to practice a life of ethical resistance to the over-determining ‘Fear’ Matrix of everyday life. After all, it is much easier to talk and theorize about liberation in ideal abstractions and through texts of the ‘great ones’ as (s)heroes; yet, so much harder to find examples of those who live it in contemporary North American contexts—that’s where I live. And, especially interesting is to witness today’s younger people, self-critically reflecting on their path, critiquing their own generation and the previous one, in a unique, very clear writing style interspersed with incomplete English sentences that look as they might sound, when they talk to you in person (e.g., “I did again.” or  “Our tribe.” or “Not love.”). I also prefer such inquiries into exemplars when the person is not so popular or famous but someone struggling in the margins as a human, artist and cultural worker like myself, who never quite ‘fit in.’

I have just read with intrigue the last four chapters (33 pp. + 12 pp. of endnotes) of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder: The 9/11 Age, the Ways of the Mystics, and One Man’s Escape from Babylon in the Belly of a Whale by Rafiq (2016) (aka Robert Sean Lewis), an eastern Canadian from Montreal. I read it from the back page (177) forward. It seems an efficient strategy in my experience to get to the “guts” of what a book offers without investing a lot of time in something I am not sure I want to. At age 64, an environmental and social activist-educator-radical for 45 years, I’ve read a lot, and my focus of where I put my energy these days is often precise, if not impatient.

No one recommended this book. I found it ‘accidently’ while researching if anyone had written any new book reviews on Four Arrows’ (2016) Point of Departure: Returning to a More Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival—as I am currently writing a book (with Four Arrows), due to be published by Peter Lang in 2018, on his “fearless” life and work, focusing on his original specific theory of fear and fearlessness utilizing general principles from an Indigenous perspective. I noticed immediately on the front cover of Rafiq’s new book the endorsement “A book to ignite a generation” by Four Arrows. I had to check that out, because by the end of this review of mine there will be my view of whether I think Rafiq’s book will ignite anything of such grandiosity.  

So you’re learning about me, perhaps, as much as this book by Rafiq. Like him, I won’t pass by a chance to write about myself and promote my work—I am an entrepreneur, with no salaried cheque every month or benefits. I have to self-promote. Ego? Narcissism? Yes, no doubt, and a whole lot more. Anyways, I’ve never been much for the long slow boring intro material—and, not sure I wish to wade through a lot of pages by Rafiq’s hand about 9/11 “facts” at this point—I’ve watched a few 9/11 truthing documentary films). Although, I confess, beginning context material can sometimes be important for understanding what comes later in a book. So, if I misinterpret anything herein it’s my own damn fault. Rafiq or anyone can correct me if I am way off the mark. Frankly, I get a thrill out of the risk of mis-interpretation. I can’t explain it other than it’s freeing to just ‘fly’ and be ‘incomplete’ and not apologetic to those who want a standard book review. I prefer a radical trust that I still can say something important, doing it my way. This is a release for me, as most of my other serious writing tends to be technical and guided by a thirst for completeness in research and accurate interpretations. But in the ‘free-spirit’ of which I sense Rafiq loves to fly, let me proceed likewise going with the flow of the southern west coast waves (California, Mexico) where he and his buddies loved to hang out, according to his story. Oh, I noticed he has had some reviewers on books reviewing it by the genre of a “novel.” Maybe it is, but it is non-fictional.

I don’t do formal book reviews these days but prefer a “review” that lives in some form of an inter-textual intimacy with my own journey of fearlessness, especially when the author of what I am reviewing is clearly opening their life and heart to an exchange with the reader and consciousness itself. I feel ‘called’ by such intimate texts and wish to handle them gently; albeit, honestly as well with critique as skillful means. Near the end, I will address why I chose to frame this dialogue with Rafiq’s text as indicative of someone, riffing along, more or less, on the path of fearlessness (re: the latter conception, see Fisher, 2010). I’ll also suggest where I think that path could be honed, both as a spiritual consciousness explorer, revolutionary and as an artist—each of which I feel comfortable in situating Rafiq and this book.

This is my first explicit encounter with Rafiq and his work and I wish to share some of the first impressions. No doubt someday I’ll read Days of Shock, Days of Wonder from start to end, maybe look on Vimeo at some of his films. Why wouldn’t I be fascinated to read about a “conscious” (p. 135) person and his “tribe” and what kind of communities they hung in—and a travel journey of a gen-Xer North American male searching for answers to big questions—searching, for his soul in a harsh predatory capitalist world that doesn’t give a shit about his quest or mine. And, then, a big attraction for me—his searching for “truth” (actually, big ‘T’) with a sincere drive to do so deeply—authentic, ethical, and creative as can be—and, continually coming up (most of the time) self-admittedly a little short, at times losing faith and a lot of grief and lament (and some joyous, even ecstatic highlights too). A few indicative Rafiq phrases caught-up in my net on this theme—I’ll call disillusionment (as he likely would too, p. 137):

 “In my days of truth activism, I’d struggled to stay on the Sufi [spiritual] path.”   (p. 164)

 “I still wasn’t myself [also p. 143]. I’d lost faith in the idea of the new human.... And Montreal was soul-defeating.... I was depressed. It’d been a year since I’d stopped meditating.” (p. 145)

“I wasn’t Taoist enough to work with others [effectively, intimately]” (p. 146)

“More than anyone over the years... [Jody] kept me from losing sight of reality in favour of my high ideals. (p. 147)

 “I’d seen the best minds of my generation swallowed up by the system.... The trick was to stay in the world without losing your soul.” (p. 153)

 “I was still looking for an alternative to the dominant system [Babylon] [p. 148].... I intended to take what I could from the modern world in order to help create Babylon’s lunar twin somewhere out on its fringes.” (p. 162)

 “But I wanted to believe that our [magical and sacred] ceremonies to activate love in the world had meant something.” (p. 142)

 [re: resistance to paying personal taxes to the State] “... like me, most people who’d woken up to their enslavement [in Babylon] kept paying them. We weren’t going to risk going to jail over it.” (p. 162) [and he often would show his own contradictions, that he was aware of, for e.g.,] “You couldn’t pay your taxes and be a moral person at the same time.” (p. 161)

 “I miss my tribe.” (p. 153)

 Gotta luv that ‘rawness’ and vulnerability in the text. Gotta question (I do anyways) How much truth can a human being handle today? Today’s culture really needs to hear these conscious journey stories and what our young people are going through (at least, some of the most aware “conscious” ones). I know he’s not the first in history to write one but that’s beside the point. Now, lest one think this book is a lot of navel-gazing, forget it! I mean it did strike me he’s a pleasure-seeking escape-from-society kind of beach-hugging “dharma bum,” as Wilber (2006, p. 109) calls a lot of the spiritual seekers suffering from “boomeritis” dis-ease in the post-1960s-70s of America. Admittedly, Rafiq’s journey of fearlessness recorded in these pages does often involve a “return to balance” (p. 150) a search and meditation on “some kind of holy union” (p. 155)—either trying to transcend fear in himself and the world or meditating on it and his ego in order to truly understand it and have it dissolve through mastery (pp. 154-55). Yet, what stood out more than anything else in terms of the purpose of this book was his cultural, economic and political critique as an activist-critic. He continually insinuates we have to look both inward and outward to keep whole.

 The word “revolution” is the bass drum beat behind nearly every sentence I read. Another reader may say “love” is the beat—he certainly repeated the latter word enough; but I found it less powerful than what was behind his passion for revolution. I spontaneously broke into a smile when he talked about his trip to the sacred temples of Mayans in S. America etc., and wrote, “At each site we would perform ceremonies to agitate for love. To help raise the collective vibration of the human heart” (p. 138). That was some of the most new agey stuff he participated in with his hippie tribe. He also was filming and observing it as a good anthropologist might do. “Agitate for love” is however, in my mind, an perfect indicator of that revolutionary political spirit that was akin to the discourse of a radical revolutionary (agitator)—and, to see that word juxtaposed with love... hmmm interesting! Oh, I also liked how he would critique some of this love-stuff, magical-stuff as well, e.g., the December 21, 2012 end of the world/time according to the Mayan calendar and many new age teachers at that time. I heard about it, watched the various documentaries and wasn’t impressed by any of it. I’ve written critically on a similar “event” that was supposed to be so spiritually transformative (revolutionary) on a grand scale back in Fisher (1987) due to some rare astrological alignment etc. I was disturbed then by the (false) “hope” I saw so many new agers fall into and then face great disillusionment (re: a substantive shift in consciousness/paradigm) as the year and years following that ‘great event’ played out in history in real-time, with real-bodies. Mostly depressing, I might add. I’ve been through several of these campaigns and none of them moves me nor seems very wise. I’m not saying these ceremonies are useless. They do probably help us find some strength and inspiration to carry on against the banal oppressive quotidian reality. Drugs do that too. I merely think they are typically over-hyped, if not ‘dangerously’ so. Hope/Fear are always sliding, colluding, and being sold to us by propagandists of every sort, secular and sacred. That’s another topic for another time—don’t get me started.

At times Rafiq would somewhat subjectively define the term revolution, contemplate on it and then lose its definitional clarity as fast as he found it—all, I think a good thing; because it keeps one always in a healthy questioning of such an important macro-conception as “revolution”—and, at times, he focused rather on “transformation” as a milder term less threatening to the status quo (and our comfortable way of life). I so appreciate that integration of the psychospiritual discourse with the sociopolitical sphere. He wrote, “But any revolution would be meaningless unless it changed our way of being in the world” (p. 164). I appreciated he both respected and at times was critical and disturbed by various revolutions and movements of his time, e.g., “new age” and “Occupy Movement.” I can relate to ambivalent feelings and thoughts about those movements as well. I get very angry at times by “young people” who think they are doing what no other generation had done before. OMG. All and all, his wide-reaching holistic sensibility makes for a strong path, a way to both compassion and wisdom—and, in my mind it makes the way to one that is not just out to be an activist-lawyer pounding out “truth” against “lies” and power and naming culprits—but, a voice speaking with nuance and troubling itself as much as it troubles how the rest of the destructive world is operating in Babylon (i.e., the ‘Fear’ Matrix, in my terms). A welcomed breath of fresh air.

Rafiq gained my respect quickly because of this holistic-integral sensibility of looking at reality from many perspectives not merely an immature righteousness one that spouts from a singular (rebellious, adolescent) perspective. Indeed, I was pleased to see self-healing with social-healing as foundational to Rafiq’s vision (even in all its instability) for revolution—if such a revolution in the Western technological world was even possible anymore. I share his questions and doubts too. In the opening section of my dissertation (Fisher, 2003) I waxed on for 50 pp. of fictional dialogue with (real) revolutionary thinkers in history around the question: “What does it take to make a (R)evolution today?” When my research supervisors, committee members and defense judges asked me to answer the question of what I found, I must admit, I couldn’t answer it ‘straight.’ I waxed on eloquently at the dissertation defense-spin to increasing glassy if not hostile eyes amongst them. No one really got it—well, maybe one out of the panel of seven members.

No wonder he also cites his experiences with Four Arrows and aligns as much as he can with a holistic Indigenous worldview, which challenges the Western dominant worldview—diagnosing it as “ill.” Four Arrows is one of the most holistic-integral balanced activist-educators I know of—and, so Rafiq is in good company and has a good ‘nose’ for sniffing out quality teachers, in my opinion. He searched and found Four Arrows and at times treated him as his mentor, even called him an “elder” in the Indigenous sense in his book review of Point of Departure (Rafiq, 2016a).

There is no way I can do justice to this book and Rafiq’s deep and unconventional thoughts (which most interest me as a radical liberation philosopher and educator). The review here would become many pages if I let myself fully explore it in careful detail and craft arguments and challenge his arguments. Yet, why bother? I want to take his work seriously, but he is also not trying to write a serious philosophy book. Is he? It is more an adventure story—with depth! Okay. Let me finish this dialogic textual interplay with him by doing a really quick and dirty fearanalysis. I’ll then end with my artistic analysis, as a social-engaged artist, raising questions about how he may have done his socially-engaged art practices ‘better’ during his four year journey in his VW van (“white whale”) in specific communities he continually visited. I risk, with humbleness (ha ha) doing all that with knowing only a ‘sliver’ of what he actually had done and does. I’m reading text, analyzing discourse, that’s all. I can’t say anything else about the man-in-real-lived relationship with him nor have I interviewed people who know him. I’m a fool.

The brief (incomplete version) of fearanalysis (for fuller delineation see Fisher, 2012; Fisher in progress) is, somewhat parallel but very different to psychoanalysis, where I ‘read’ the way an author talks/writes about fear and fearlessness. Rafiq doesn’t actually use the word “fearlessness” per se, at least in what I read but he uses “courageous” once (p. 153) among a list of other virtues he holds dear (e.g., balance, unity, wisdom, truth, love). Based on years of scholarly research and my own processes of healing and transformation, I (among others, like the late Rinpoche Chöygam Trungpa) hold the first steps of fearlessness to be vulnerability... a rawness of peeling away conditioned layers of oneself, not just in private but in public space too... and, Rafiq is well on that path—to repeat my own words: Gotta luv that ‘rawness’ and vulnerability in the text. The fact he was continually risking to paddle board on big waves in the ocean, venture into the “truthing movement” (re: 9/11) and live a wild life on the road not knowing what was coming or how he’d survive (e.g., without a lot of money), are all signs to me of the pilgrim of fearlessness facilitating their reality encounters by consistently “jumping into the unknown without a net in sight” (p. 133). Other people might judge him ‘reckless’ and full of bravado (male ego)—even immature. How does one define such labels? I don’t know for sure. The text overall told me probably a little bit of both male bravado and fearlessness spirited him along into these adventures and zones of danger and possibility. These same characteristics I read also in the biography of Four Arrows. Rafiq reminded me at times, somewhat mirroring, how I see Four Arrows operates.

My first fearanalysis (systematic) task is to underline all the uses of “fear” or relatives to it in the text. Having studied many authors’ writing about fear for over 27 years systematically, I get a quick ‘reading’ where someone is coming from relative to all the others I have studied likewise, via fearanalysis. I wasn’t impressed that he skirted around defining “fear” a lot more carefully (maybe, earlier in the book he does so). It would be important except that the concept is as important and as complex as “love” (and, he also didn’t spend a lot of time defining love systematically either). This makes me wonder, what does he actually mean when he writes about these important terms in human existence?

Okay, I’ll let him off the hook a bit because it isn’t that serious kind of a book on contestations of theories and conceptualizations of “fear” from multiple angles across disciplines. Methodologically, my ideal request would be that he treated both love and fear in holistic ways not just everyday discourse and his own fav notion at any moment in the text. Yet, “fear” came up forefront on a few pages, and I suspect his entire trip and his own philosophy is one of fearlessness (at least implicitly,)—and thus, to know fearlessness and master it is to know and master fear (at least, he does more or less bring this forward in his talking about “ego” –arguably, his writing is typically an esoteric and mystical spiritual genre, where “fear” is equated often with “ego” and visa versa; see, for e.g., p. 138). In that sense, I found him a bit of a conformist, lacking originality, creativity and depth around these great meta-motivational forces shaping our lives and his too. I mean conformist in regard to his imaginary and understanding of fear and its management and/or transformation. He might retort to my critique: “Ah, Michael, there you go, it is your ego always looking for what is lacking in someone else, so to make you feel superior and special.” I’ve heard this a hundred times over the past 27 years of my fearanalysis critique work—always raising the question, who is fear-projecting on who?

On the other-hand, I was glad he interacted some with Four Arrows around the fear concept and phenomena (e.g., Four Arrows’ theory of CAT-FAWN). However, in the pages I read (e.g., pp. 154-55) I did not see an intricate synthesis that convinced me Rafiq was utilizing the best of what Four Arrows’ work had to offer him in this area. It made me question how his “style” maybe quite like the dragonfly skimming along the surface grabbing what it can and running (flying) off to the next pond to fulfill the addictive zeal of “learning” from everyone and everything(?) Potentially, such a “style” I see in a lot of young people these days and their digital short attention spans and endless glut for information. Luckily, I missed a lot of that being a boomer.

I would guess Rafiq had read some of the metaphysics, by many writers throughout history and across cultures, that Love vs. Fear is the primary task of liberation work. These theories (philosophies, religions) claim, in some forms, that such meta-emotions (motivators) are not compatible (see Fisher, 2012a)—that is, not able to be complementary “twins” in the mythic sense as in say solar and lunar forces (that Rafiq was learning from Howard Teich and Four Arrows) (p. 154). My conversations with Four Arrows and interpretation of his writing over a decade, indicates the Indigenous worldview (love-based) and Dominant worldview (fear-based) are opposites of a very different kind than “twins.” I think this would be worthy evidence and theoretical argument to make the case of Rafiq’s own strong stance in the book re: that there cannot be (healthy) complementarity between “Indigenous ways... [and] Western [“modern tech”] society without losing their [Indigenous] essence” (p. 152).

This ends my ‘cheap’ fearanalysis, lest I forget to say, that because of his lack of depth into understanding fear, theorizing fear, and helping the reader be more clear how he was using that term, I believe this indicates that he had not thought a lot about fearlessness either up to that point of writing this book. My own integral-holistic theory (Fisher, 2010) of fear and fearlessness claims that one only truly reaches a stage of fearlessness (Wilber’s integral consciousness level) when they are seriously interested in fear at all levels of existence from multiple perspectives. It requires disciplined study, standing back and witnessing, what archetypally can be called the path of the Sacred Warrior. I surmise, from reading his text, Rafiq is definitely on that path, albeit, in the early to mid initiatory levels.

Now, to conclude, I have made it clear this is a good book to help understand what  “conscious” and sensitive young people may be going through in having to confront the Western modern tech world and predatory capitalism and its lies—of which the 9/11 debacle perpetrated by some corporate and governmental elites, is but one symptom. It is a good book in which to witness how “revolution” may or not be carried out in our times. It is a good book to examine the limitations of human beings too—and, their wounds and inabilities to hold existential, spiritual, economic and political truths. There’s no one to blame, really. Is there? I think Rafiq and his tribe got lost at times into a lot of blaming of this scapegoat or that one. It’s part of the grief cycle, so experts tell us. Hmmm....

My view, from the start of reading a brief bio of Rafiq was that he was an independent filmmaker and artist (writer, musician, etc.) with great social concern and wants his art to help make the transformation to a new and better (more sustainable, healthy, sane) world. He referred to as the “new human” (one with a soul)—living in the world but not of it.’ I too work as an artist in this context and struggle, in the Anthropocene, as some are calling this period of history today with cascading extinction-driving imperative forces (like global warming). Of many questions stirring in my mind about his “artist” in the world, from what I read, I continually asked what his methodology overall was, as a socially-engaged artist? He seemed to care about people and communities, but I didn’t get a sense he really utilized a clear understanding and foundation to stand on based on the long documented history and practices of socially-engaged artists.

It is like Rafiq hasn’t yet claimed the “territoriality” of that postmodern artist cultural worker role. Maybe he doesn’t agree with me on that ‘peg’ I would hang his work upon overall. My wife just this morning read me a text on this issue, of which I leave here as a “resource” perhaps of some use to Rafiq and others like him. It is from a book by an ecological and socially-engaged art collective (Compass) in Chicago and area, where my wife (also an artist) spent time engaging them in person recently. Anyways, the quote from their collective’s book (cited in Pentecost, 2012, p. 18) brings forward there can be critical pedagogical and methodological clarity brought to artists/teachers/activists who want to ‘walk’ (journey) and ‘work’ in the world and help solve its problems:

Celestin Freinet established the Modern School Movement in 1926.... He developed three complementary teaching techniques: (1) the ‘learning walk,’ during which pupils [or anyone] would join him in exploratory walks around town, gathering information and impressions about their community.... Afterwards the children would collectively dictate a collective ‘free text,’ which might lead to pretexts for direct action within their community to improve living conditions... (2) a classroom printing press, for producing multiple copies of the pupil’s writings and a newspaper to be distributed to their families, friends, and other schools; (3) inter-school networks: pupils from two different schools exchange ‘culture packages,’ printed texts, letters, tapes, photographs, maps, etc. (Pinder and Sutton, in Translator’s Note to Felix Guattari’s The Three Ecologies).

It was 1926... long time ago... when that kind of progressive educative action was being systematized, and it is only one type of activist work among so many since, and even before. I really never had a sense in my reading of Rafiq that he was drawing on such sources for his own activism, and I think often because of his total fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, and other factors, he “missed” the boat of doing effective good work that could have been accomplished on his four-year journey. Who am I to judge? I’m sure he’ll at least consider my thought. It seems he was so compelled to ‘huddle’ and find comfort with his “tribe” and, I feel somewhat the loss and missed opportunity. Yet, clearly, I have no idea what impact he did have on all the places he describes he stayed at on this journey Days of Shock, Days of Wonder.

Rafiq will be an interesting player of the revolution to come, for that I have no doubt of his importance. Will he or his book “ignite a generation”—I don’t think so, for many reasons, some of which I have given, not the least of which, he and his work is still young and growing toward something more powerful. I’ll be watching and no doubt as will others, for what form it all takes. The fact that there are 16 book short ‘book reviews’ on alone already, tells me his book does seem somewhat popularly inspiring. It is an impressive feat for anyone to get a book like this published by an official publisher the quality of Hay River Books, as I believe they have published many of Noam Chomsky’s political tracts. Good for him. Many will like his style. It’s not my style but I feel akin to his overall undertaking. I’m curious what happened eventually to the white whale? In the 80’s I bought a 1973 VW and well... a kinship with Rafiq’s spirit is inevitable. Today, I lament, no more cars, nor more vans—I’ve used up my oil and gas quota and supported excess CO2 for one life-time.


Fisher, R. M. (in progress). A general introduction to fearanalysis: Putting the culture of fear and terror on the couch.

Fisher, R. M. (2012). Fearanalysis: A first guidebook. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

Fisher, R. M. (2012a). Love and fear. A CSIIE Yellow Paper, DIFS-6. Carbondale, IL: Center for Spiritual Inquiry & Integral Education.

Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world’s fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press         of America.

Fisher, R. M. (2003). Fearless leadership in and out of the ‘Fear’ Matrix. Unpublished dissertation. Vancouver, BC: The University of British Columbia.

Fisher, R.M. (1987). Life after Harmonic Convergence. Erospirit, October, 13-16.

Four Arrows (aka Jacobs, D. T.) (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age          Publishing.

Pentecost, C. (2012). Notes on the project called Continental Drift. In R. Borcia, B. Fortune and S. Ross (Eds.), Deep roots: The midwest in all directions by Compass Collaborators (pp. 16-24). Chelsea, MI: White Wire.

Rafiq (aka Lewis, R. S.) (2016). Days of shock, days of wonder: The 9/11 age, the ways of the mystics, and one man’s escape from Babylon in the belly of a whale.           Montreal, QB: Hay River Books.

Rafiq (2016a). Indigenous worldview and the art of transformation: A book review by Rafiq. Retrieved from

Wilber, K. (2006). Integral spirituality: A startling new role for religion in the modern and postmodern world. Boston, MA: Integral Books.          



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New School Movement Cares About Role of Fear

It is rare for me to find a transformative school, or school movement that seems like it really is what it advertises itself to be when looked at closer. It is rare when I get surprised there is a movement, I have never heard of (i.e., in North America) that is encouraging beyond the surface. I am aware of the great strides of progressive schools in Finland and how that model is taking off around the world, but right here in American there's EL Schools based on the Outward Bound design principles, brought into regular schools and transforms them. I think these are worth looking at seriously for anyone involved in curriculum development for the 21st century, and, I'm sure these schools are not "perfect" and I would have a lot of things to add, or would any other astute critic of educational practices. I am also not saying this is a radical school movement like I would like... but it seems, upon my reading the website that it is impressive nonetheless for what it is. The 10 principles are pretty great (albeit, I don't see enough Indigenous Education aspects up-front-and-center as Four Arrows would recommend [1]. Yet, a few things impress me, and that begins in Principle 1, I have included it below... and, you can guess why I like it so much. The second, is that Natural World is put out so prominently (principle 8) with also Solitude & Reflection (principle 9)

The foregrounding of the role of fear as the greatest barrier to human potential is not an entirely new idea at all, it is just rare to see it foregrounded in any school movement. I had never even heard of EL schools, although, I am somewhat familiar with the Outward Bound philosophy and programs going back into the 1970s as part of the Outdoor and Environmental Education movement. So, it is great to see this new adaptation into regular schools in the system and it is producing great results.

The area of my critique, of course, would be on what the quality is behind their conception of "fear" and most likely it is pretty shallow and individual and psychological--not an integral perspective. This is where I would bring forward the work of Four Arrows and myself to supplement such a "primary task" to ensure it is done the best possible [2]. I would encourage such EL Schools to join the Fearlessness Movement first off the bat. Then study these movements, and have their students study them, for starters. Why limit the imaginary to merely "overcome their fears" but rather put this into an evolutionary, historical, sociopolitical, liberational context. "Fears" is not the most important, but understanding the nature and role of fear itself is deeper and richer for critical consciousness... and, then, there are a few more steps along the spectrum of maturity that are required... all the way to fearlessness and on and on...

End Notes:

1. See, Four Arrows (Jacobs, D. T.) (with England-Aytes, K., Cajete, G., Fisher, R. M., Mann, B. A., McGaa, E. and Sorensen, M.) (2013). Teaching truly: A curriculum to Indigenize mainstream education. NY: Peter Lang.

2. in Four Arrows et. al (2013), see Chapter 13, "From Fear to Fearlessness"; also, in Four Arrows (2016), see Chapter 2, "Courage and Fearlessness." Four Arrows (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

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New 7th 'Fear' Vaccine Added

The 'Fear' Vaccines as I have called them going way back to the early 1990s (In Search of Fearlessness Project or ISOF), are intended, just as they say, to counter the oppressive effects of 'fear' (and fear). I have written a good deal about these notions, including the distinction of "fear" and 'fear' (as a culturally modified fear patterning). I won't repeat that here and you may want to check out my other writings.

The 'Fear' Vaccines (which is really a process of "soft technologies") are intended to be practiced and studied. With time, patience and experience, they will counter-act to free you (and organizations) from any fear-based domination. They are essential "tools" in that sense to working one's way out of the 'Fear' Matrix (or 'Fear' Project, or fearism-t). These include 6 in their original configuration that evolved in ISOF (Calgary): (1) quality information on fear and fearlessness, (2) Liberation Peer Counseling, (3) Spontaneous Creation-making, (4) Community-building, (5) Sacred Warriorship, (6) Vision Quest.

The 7th vaccine has just been discovered in its latest form in the last 20 years or so by Dr. Don Trent Jacobs (also known as Four Arrows). I am currently writing a book on his life and work, but most importantly I have followed his work as a researcher and educator because of his discovery of a great model for working with decolonizing the mind, or de-hypnotizing ourselves from the dominant (and largely pathological) Western worldview. His model is defined in a mnemonic form: CAT-FAWN. There is a fascinating story behind the years of discovering this model, with roots of its "teaching" coming from ancient ancestors in remote Mexico and the shamans of the Raramuri there, as well as from the non-human spirit teachers-- and to be clear, it has not yet been put to full use (not even by Four Arrows), and I am just in the early stages of understanding it. I will write more on CAT-FAWN but not in detail here as I merely wanted to officially recognize it in my mind as the 7th 'Fear' Vaccine.

CAT-FAWN = Concentration Activated Transformation (CAT) and FEAR, AUTHORITY, WORDS, NATURE (FAWN). The basic principle behind this CAT-FAWN connection, as Four Arrows calls it, is that in any concentration state (subtle and light, or dramatic and heavy) we are in "trance" and in that state the human (and many animals) are highly susceptible to learning, for good or not so good. The point is to recognize with great critical awareness when one is going into a trance-state (i.e., CAT), it may be as simple as when you are watching TV too long, or driving a car, or working on an art piece or listening to music or when you have been injured and are fearful and/or terrorized... etc. By recognizing and predicting the high learning potential in this trance (CAT) state, you will be able to ensure you are not going to let Fear, Authorities, Words, or Nature be used against you and your current state, but be helpful as guides to move you along (in my words) the path of fearlessness of development.

More on all this as time goes... just also want to let you know that Barbara Bickel (my partner) has initiated with me to co-author a book on the 'Fear' Vaccines and all our years experience with them, and ensure they are documented for history. You can bet a final chapter will be on the latest addition of the 7th to the traditional 6 that we have the most experience with in the ISOF Community especially. Stay tuned...

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Fearlessness and Indigenizing

[Prelude: the following is an excerpt from my spontaneous journaling and because of that I do not have all the references in here backing up what I am saying, as a scholar might do, and as I often do. Rather, I wanted to keep this less technical and formal and an expression of some of my intimate and philosophical thoughts as they run... feel free to contact me if you want more information and/or references. Note, most terms that have quote marks, especially when more technical terms, are the concepts of others, not my own]

Jun 2- the last full day of this trip to Winnipeg and my embedded relationships in the field space and mental-value epistemic space of what I would call the “Indigenizing Project” (which, in my own language is a part of the Fearlessness Movement and ISOF Project work for me. As you may recall the sixth ‘fear’ vaccine in the ISOF model was/is “Vision Quest.” Now, of course, these days in a postmodern and post-/neo-colonial critique, and hyper-sensitivity (dare I say “fear”) in identity politics land and politics, there is like zero-tolerance policies (nearly) floating in every which way to ensure that I as a “Westerner,” “Settler,” “White” “Eurocentric” "Male" "Heterosexual" person do not step over the line to enter into promoting a “Vision Quest” without "approval" of some Indigenous Elder or 'Indigenous' person (however, difficult and problematic those labels are, when it comes to issues of definition and authentication criteria, in the first place)--as anything other than a 'bad' thing (i.e., an act of violation called appropriation) from the point of view of that critique.

However, I am not going to be suppressed and oppressed by that critique and indictment alone, IF I think it is an oversimplified indictment without good evidence and without consulting me in the negotiation of that indictment, of which I am happy to give my case in equal argumentation, following the basic principles of a "Two-Eye Seeing" and “ethical space” argumentation.

I listen to the “appropriation” indictment, listen to it respectfully and engage it as much as the ‘other-side’ is willing;  but I also do not adopt, necessarily, despite what the pc police would have me adopt and swear to, because I find typically  their stance is still situated (Indigenous-Western) in a fundamentally postmodern response, if not a Romantic reaction (and retro-regression) response of cultural differentiation, protectionism, traditionalism, and an overall conservativism of the worst culturalism kind. I am much more interested in a philosophy of “cultural hybridity” as some scholars have carefully been arguing, along with a "trans(per)formative" approach to identity and pedagogy in general. The former traditionalism, with its odd postmodern garb, over-privileges an ontological and epistemological and axiological culturalism (primacy to the Cultural capital ‘C’ as meta-worldview) above and beyond the Natural and Spiritual domains—or what is intimately most accurately the Integral Standpoint (NCS) based on what I have argued in the Wilberian sense is a Fearless Standpoint Theory (FST). I believe this latter stance is the only way to ensure a freedom from epistemic violence perpetuated in under the flags of ideological reductionism that naturalism, culturalism and spiritualism are embedded in. In this sense, I am taking what Wilber has called a theocentric or kosmocentric perspective—which is something that the postmoderns and poststructuralists cannot stand and “hate” and will do everything in their power to maim and disavow credibility and integrity in the domains of knowledge-making and inquiry itself. Yes, my friends, this goes back to the “enemies of fearlessness” which I have argued all along soon after 1989.

I wish to write more of my own social philosophy of fearism, from FST and NCS, with its practical and theoretical threads, and in which the “Vision Quest” ‘fear’ vaccine is intended in these discussions to be revisited, extended, revised, as I have not given it the attention for some time. And in which I have come to see that my most recent work with Four Arrows (and the U of M Two-Eyed Seeing research team), is leading me to ask how it is that I can bring an Indigenizing lens (at least) to all of my conceptualizing, philosophizing, theorizing and practical work. Right off the top, is my interest to bring this to the ‘fear’ vaccines, and to an Indigenizing of the vision quest and a philosophy of fearism. The big debate that has to be worked through, not only in my own thinking, but so many others in and out of the Indigenous worlds, is how to define “Indigenizing” itself. That is what I think requires a lot of attention from me, at the least, before I proceed with the vision question and ‘fear’ vaccines. So, this is just a little ‘gem’ of my thoughts of late I wanted to share with you here at CSIIE for future inquiry and dialogues.  

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Here are a couple excepts from the Foreword(s) in Desh Subba and my new book Philosophy of Fearism: A First E-W Dialogue (forthcoming, Xlibris): 

             You are about to eavesdrop on a most important dialogue. Poetic, provocative and exciting, this engagement with “fearism” might also be, well, frightening. One thing that emerges from this radical conversation between the two most eminent fearologists in the world is that each of us must make vital choices that determine if and how we might escape the growing dangers that relate to our inability to manage fear effectively. And making such choices can be a scary proposition for many.

            What makes this text so valuable is not just the authors’ freewheeling, challenging thoughts that stem from years of contemplating their subject, but the fact that it is being discussed at all. Although people in most cultures know about the importance of courage, few have had the opportunity to learn how to employ it consistently and effectively. Dr. Fisher and Desh Subba offer reflections from two very different cultural orientations that can lead to our becoming “connoisseurs of fear,” (a phrase I once borrowed from the courageous author, Sam Keen (1999), for a chapter title in my 1998 book, Primal Awareness.) This book thus offers a unique break from the status-quo avoidance that surrounds the topic of fear, if one can muster the courage to tackle the subject. 

Four Arrows (Dr. Don Trent Jacobs)- Professor, School of Educational Leadership & Change, Fielding Graduate School, Sequim, WA


           In late 2014, Mr. Subba called me and informed me about Dr. R. Michael Fisher's (2014) Technical Paper 51. I became curious and read it. Really, it was amazing. My dreams  had come true, it was there. That paper was the first internationally supported document of Fearism, and fortunately very similar thought was now available coming from the West. I made many copies and distributed them among writers. Subba also sent copies to  N.E. India. Now, with the publishing of Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue, there is a very important blueprint for global fearism, built on friendship, philosophical exchange, and open-minded thinking about the Philosophy of Fearism as it moves through a new door to the wide world. This latest work is an excellent foundation for authors, scholars, students and philosophical lovers. I wish the book and its authors all the best. 

Dr. Tanka Prasad Neupane, Professor, and Chairman, Fearism Study Center, Dharan, Nepal

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