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Shivam O’Brien on Sin

by Jerry Hyde

Shivam O’Brien—spiritual seeker, chieftain of the great Spirit Horse Community (to which we will return in detail later), poet, storyteller and wandering Irish bard—at a little over 6 foot is more or less my height (perhaps an inch taller, perhaps an inch shorter). To describe him as unkempt would be kind, unless he’s in his ceremonial robes, in which case he looks like a tribal king.

Hunched in the dark recesses of my living room beside a rotten kilim sack containing all his worldly possessions, teasing sounds from a Stratocaster more Hindu Kush than Delta blues, Shiv presents a wild and timeless figure beyond the constraints of any era or society that your average, decent law-abiding citizen would recognise as normal or correct.

Parsifal-like in his demeanour Shivam, too, is on a singlehanded mission to save the world, or as he puts it, ‘to reinvent culture’. While I never really got my head around what he means by that, I know that he works around the clock with demonic frenzy to bring light and goodness and beauty with his every breath, and that’s good enough for me or any man. Laying down the guitar he launches, in his soft Galway brogue, into a breathless diatribe on Catholicism, ancient land-dwelling peoples and Sin—a field in which he has not inconsiderable expertise.

‘If you wanna control people, you’ve got Purgatory and Hell and a few other nasty places. Adults would send the kids off to confession; you’d never see them down on their knees, but it was considered good for the kids.

‘So that’s Irish Catholicism for you, but it’s also got a bit of medieval Europe in it, too. We have the problem, we have the solution and we control you.

‘Now that game is up, but it’s kind of interesting to reflect on what a thorough and awful machine it was, cos it’s got hundreds and hundreds of years of Europe’s history in it.

‘What the Catholic Church does to young minds…

‘Is a Sin

‘The pagans have a reverence for the great intelligence that we came from. That’s the root religion, the natural religion of natural people and natural community, and there’s something to be trusted about it.

‘It doesn’t have morality.

‘It has reality.’

And boom! there it is. I could finish my Book of Sin right here and now with that one statement—‘reality, not morality.’

But you can’t stop Shivam talking that easily.

‘We need a new definition of Sin. We have to redecide what it is. It’s not like now we’ve moved out of that medieval way of thinking that there isn’t Sin, or that we’re innocent. There are a lot of very well-educated people in the Western world who are very consciously destroying this natural environment that we live in and condemning their descendants; whether it’s in one generation or two, we’re going to live in some kind of a slum. It’s going to be a wasteland. And they’re doing it with full knowledge.

‘We’re living in a pretty shameless society. You drink from a plastic bottle and you put it in the bin and they put it in a bigger bin and what are you gonna do with it then? Nobody knows what to do with this stuff, but no one feels ashamed; and I think there’s a real danger in a society that has no concept of Sin. Not that people should be shamed, that’s a different thing, but if people have no sense of shame, then no matter how much you destroy the earth or lie to yourself about what a good person you are and you don’t self-enquire, you end up with a society that’s shameless. And then because there are no socially held values, we’re in a free-for-all, which in a way is a fantastic creative space, but it’s dangerous and destructive and out of control.’

He finishes with a flourish.

‘There’s no shame.’

That’s a hell of a statement—the world is actually worse off without shame. I’d never considered that, but then a lot of the really great wisdom can be shocking. It has to be to wake you up.

Extract from Book of Sin: http://www.soulrocks-books.com/books/book-sin-how-save-world-practical-guide

Jerry Hyde has worked in film, theatre, TV and the music business. After retraining as a psychotherapist, he had a fairly conventional career until losing the plot and rebranding himself in the somewhat out-there style for which he's become known. Jerry also supports people through psychedelic experiences and facilitates vision quests to Nepal. He lives in London, UK.

Book of Sin is published by Soulrocks Books (imprint of John Hunt Publishing), ISBN: 978-1-78535-693-3 (Paperback) £14.99 $23.95.

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