by Paul Levy
The following article was originally published on Paul’s website, Awaken in the Dream.
There is something terribly wrong in our world. The Native American people have a term—wetiko—that can really help us to contextualize and get more of a handle on the ever-unfolding catastrophe playing out all over our planet. As my research deepens, I am continually amazed that so many different spiritual wisdom traditions, as well as creative artists, are each in their own unique ways, pointing out wetiko. Wetiko—which can be likened to a virus of the mind—works through our unconscious blind spots, which is to say that it depends upon our unawareness of its covert operations within our own minds to keep itself in business. There is no one definitive model that fully delineates the elusive workings of wetiko disease, but when all of these unique articulations are seen together, a deeper picture begins to get in focus that can help us to see it. Seeing how wetiko works—both out in the world and within our own minds—is its worst nightmare, for once we see how it is playing us, its gig is up.
Recently, I have been delighted to learn that the science fiction author Philip K. Dick (henceforth PKD) was, in his own completely unique and “Philip K. Dickian” way describing wetiko—the psycho-spiritual disease that afflicts our species—to a T. Considered to be one of the pre-eminent sci-fi writers of his—or any—time, PKD had one of the most unique, creative, unusual and original minds I have ever come across. Way ahead of his time, he was a true visionary and seer, possibly even a prophet. To say that PKD had an unfettered imagination is an understatement of epic proportions—it is hard to imagine an imagination more unrestrained. Continually questioning everything, he was actually a very subtle thinker whose prime concern was the question “What is reality?”
Though mainly a writer of fiction, PKD didn’t consider himself a novelist, but rather, a “fictionalizing philosopher,” by which he meant that his stories—what have been called “his wacky cauldron of science fiction and metaphysics”—were employed as the medium for him to formulate his perceptions. In other words, his fiction was the way he was trying to figure out what was going on in this crazy world of ours, as well as within his own mind. As the boundary dissolved between what was real and what wasn’t, he even wondered whether he had become a character in one of his own novels (in his own words, “I’m a protagonist from one of PKD’s books”). Through his writing, PKD tapped into the shamanic powers of language to shape, bend and alter consciousness, thereby changing our view and experience of reality itself.