If I Am Not This Body Then … ?
When I first encountered the swirling and chaotic psilocybin-fueled visuals and thoughts of my awakening, I tried to reorient myself by holding specific questions and concepts in my mind. (I should mention, for those unfamiliar with ‘tripping’ on mushrooms, that psilocybin doesn’t remove the ability to think about or be aware of what you’re doing.) One of the images I repeatedly visualized was of the duality of ‘the light’ and ‘the dark’, in all its manifestations; good and evil, right and wrong, love and fear. I would hold this image in my mind and wonder, ‘Why is there both light and dark? Must there always be both? What is the purpose of the dark?‘ I was under the influence of a pretty heavy post-election malaise and was hoping these questions would prompt the mushrooms to deliver some insight about a future that felt heavy with bad news.
Each time I held these ‘light/dark’ thoughts in my mind, into my mind’s eye (I had my eyes closed) would come an image like the one above – light ‘bleeding’ into dark. Only the picture was always moving, as if the light had an energy that was searching, reaching into the dark. When later sketching the image into my journal, I was reminded of similar images from high school biology films that showed, in real time, white blood cells moving through the body’s tissues, constantly reaching out, probing, touching, exploring, looking; I was riveted by the images (I’m still sure those films weighed heavily in my decision to study microbiology in college).
Now, you’ll notice that nowhere in this image, animated or not, are there actual answers to any of the actual questions I was focusing on during the trip. It was more like … specific question, non-specific image … different specific question, same non-specific image. At one point I even got a bit frustrated at just seeing the same image over and over without gaining any understanding (or so I thought) and very purposefully thought, ‘Fine! I was done asking that question anyway!’ And yet, even after experiencing all the incredible visions and perceptions that followed, this light/dark image remained vivid in my mind and was one of the first things I wrote down afterwards, largely just to get it out of my head. And over the following months, a passing comment by some teacher or other would briefly bring the image to mind but the memory never brought insight – until now.
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Facing The Transformation Of An Awakening
Once you get to psychedelics … you have now the power to transform yourself. If the search was for power, you’ve found it … You have found the answer. Seeking’s over … but what you have to do now is a much more demanding and grown-up thing. You have to face the answer. And you have to take the measure of yourself against the answer. You said you wanted to ascend into the dragon realms. You said you wanted these spiritual realities to become vivid for you. But now there is nothing between you and ‘It’ except the decision to make it happen. And where do you come down on that? — Terence McKenna
As I come to the one-year anniversary of my awakening, I find myself simultaneously surprised – and not – at the state of affairs in this story called ‘My Life’. On the one hand, it’s surprising to see the numerous ways in which I’ve stepped away, and without much hesitation, from the professional and financial security I spent decades creating. On the other hand, I’m not at all surprised that my entire worldview has shifted; how could it not in the face of experiencing something on the scale of an awakening? What else are you to do when the veil is ripped aside and you come face to face with the answer to the question ‘who am I?’. Afterwards, I felt I had to keep exploring the new path now revealed.
Transformation. It’s a word I heard used a lot during the last year as I listened to numerous stories from people who have experienced this profound shift in awareness called an awakening. When first looking back at the ground I’d covered after one year on the non-dual path, I experienced a moment of surprised when realizing I’ve now joined the ranks of the transformed. I’m now one of those people who has experienced a spiritual event and am now tearing around (in cyberspace) and shouting (to no one in particular) about The Good News! And that feels weird – at least to my egoic self – because whatever I thought I would be doing at this point of my life, this ain’t it. But such is the power of the awakening; it transforms.
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A Shamanic Brew From The Amazon
If you haven’t yet heard of ayahuasca (sounds like ‘iowaska’) from your usual sources, give it a minute; I was super-surprised to see a fairly factual article about this psychotropic brew posted by Fox News so word has clearly gone mainstream.
Ayahuasca is a plant medicine, a tea used by Amazonian tribes during shamanic rituals for at least the last 1000 years, possibly much longer. The drink is made by boiling crushed pieces of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine with the leaves of one of a handful of DMT-containing plants, usually Psychotria viridis. Over many hours, a big pot of vines and leaves are boiled down into a dark, thick, noxious-tasting potion (or so I’ve heard, I’ve not yet had the pleasure). Fortunately, just a few ounces is usually enough. In addition to the noxious taste, ayahuasca typically produces bouts of vomiting – called ‘the purge’ or la purga – as the ‘Goddess of the Vine’ cleans out the physical and psychic body of the traveler.
And judging by the numerous stories being shared on the net these days, you will be doing some traveling after drinking ayahuasca. Many a book, blog and documentary have popped up recently with accounts of this consciousness-altering experience; it’s interesting that so many people encounter this same ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ or ‘Goddess of the Vine’ entity during their voyage; I’m reminded of comments from Terence McKenna and other widely-traveled psychonauts that each psychotropic plant or substance opens a door to a specific kind of psychedelic space, a unique perspective into the One Mind and the archetypes within just that space.
Another after-effect of the ayahuasca experience seems to be a call to creativity. Explosions of colorful and imaginative ideas and visions, both during and after the ritual, have prompted many to produce stunning works of art when, taken as a group, clearly share a common theme; it’s become known as ‘ayahuasca art’ and I’ll share some gorgeous examples in the next post.
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