What is The Body?

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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Julia Mossbridge

IONS website, LinkedIn

Julia Mossbridge, PhD is a neuroscientist interested in how time is perceived by the conscious and unconscious mind. She currently works as a visiting scientist with both IONS and Northwestern University and is also involved with the development of focus@will, a music app designed to focus attention. And because she apparently still had a spare 30 minutes in her day, Dr. Mossbridge recently founded the Mossbridge Institute, for which she is leading projects about teach and learning about love and time.
“We are in the midst of a sea change. Receding from view is materialism, whereby physical phenomena are assumed to be primary and consciousness is regarded as secondary. Approaching our sights is a complete reversal of perspective. According to this alternative view, consciousness is primary and the physical is secondary. In other words, materialism is receding and giving way to ideas about reality in which consciousness plays a key role." --Julia Mossbridge & Imants Baruss, 'Transcendent Mind: Rethinking the Science of Consciousness'
What's been helpful: In this culture, we split teachings on 'science' and 'spirit' into entirely different houses - literally and figuratively - and this divide reflects the choice many believe they must make in order to find answers to the deepest questions about life's meaning. What I instantly appreciated about Julia's SAND presentations was how she linked her scientific research in neuroscience to spiritual insights that followed. As someone who thought I was as going to have to confine myself to spiritual texts to explain my awakening, it was a relief to learn that many sciences are investigating consciousness and that some of these explorations are revealing the same profound truth and provoking the same genuine wonder and delight I experienced as part of awakening. This in turn revealed a whole other library of options for learning about consciousness, in addition to the spiritual texts. So though I've only seen a few of her lectures (video) and haven't yet read any of her books, I've added Julia to the 'Teachers' page in appreciation for how wonderfully she epitomized for me the power of science to amaze and inspire.

Science as a Spiritual Practice, Julia Mossbridge ~ Julia looks at how we speak about and teach science today and argues for applying the tools of spiritual practice when conducting scientific analysis.

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Dean Radin

Website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia page

(From his website) "Dean Radin, PhD, is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Associated Distinguished Professor of Integral and Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). He occasionally gives lectures in the Department of Psychology at Sonoma State University and has served on doctoral dissertation committees at Saybrook University and CIIS. His original career track as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a BSEE degree in electrical engineering, magna cum laude with honors in physics, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories. For three decades he has been engaged in frontiers research on the nature of consciousness. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International."
“As science attained unprecedented power through its ability to predict and control certain limited aspects of nature, it also began to overshadow our understanding of ethics and values. History has shown that decisions affecting millions were made on the basis of industrial expediency, technological imperatives, and economic pressures. Just as the absolute power held by the church for centuries had been seductive, the growing power of science had seduced as well.” ― Dean Radin, 'The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena'
What's been helpful: I wouldn't normally just cut/paste a bio from someone's website but I did so in this case to make clear that Dean Radin is no amateur scientist fascinated by the possibility that magic's real. Instead, Dean is an accomplished academic who's attempting to do hard science out on the edges of consciousness studies - it only looks like magic. Dean's goal is to aggregate centuries of psi-related anecdotes and experimental data into a recognized field of consciousness science that will inform a new model of reality, one continually shaped by data from a new class of psi experiments. And despite how dry I just made that sound, it really is fascinating to hear his rap, as you can tell by the view count on this first video - it has a podium, power point slides and everything and still has over 630,000 views. So on that note …

New Experiments Show Consciousness Affects Matter ~ Dean Radin PhD ~ Dean reviews the pivotal 'double-slit' experiment and then details the recent work his team has done to measure the effects of directed consciousness on matter, results independently replicated recently at the University of Sao Paulo as documented here. Fair warning - Dean has a quiet, steady march to his presentation style that informs but doesn't necessarily excite; I suspect it reflects the patience one must have when challenging conventional wisdom. Or maybe it's this measured pace that give his presentations a certain convincing weight. At the very least, his ideas pique the curiosity.

Dean Radin's Extraordinary Synchronicity Story ~ And a fun little story about more coincidence that coincidence can explain ...

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Format Aside

Ayahuasca Serpents  by  TAS Visuals

While pulling together the ayahuasca gallery, I sidetracked numerous times into the vast trove of digital art inspired by psychotropic plants. This short video, in which the ayahuasca serpent theme makes an appearance, is a trippy example. Find more psychedelic clips from TAS Visuals on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.

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“You Said You Wanted To See”

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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Ayahuasca Basics

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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Terence McKenna

Wikipedia page, Facebook

Terence McKenna was an ethnobotanist, mystic, author, psychonaut and lecturer. He was born and raised in Colorado but managed to extricate himself to Los Altos, California while still in his teens and so was on hand during the Haight-Ashbury heyday. And yet he never seemed to join it directly and in 1969, Terence headed first to Nepal and then to the Amazon in 1971, where he encountered the psilocybin experiences that would shape him into the psychedelic bard he became.
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed.” --Terence McKenna
What's been helpful: I suspect anyone drawn into the world of psychedelic experiences is eventually going to come across Terence and Dennis McKenna. After hearing Terence's name mentioned in passing by several others, I finally got around to looking into the matter - and instantly became a fan. If you also appreciate hearing the English language expertly managed, then Terence is one of those people you'd listen to describe the cover of the phone book for an hour. And then to marry his language skills and the world of the psychedelic!? Well, that's just a match made in Magic Mushroom Heaven, is what that is. Terence often drew upon an extensive knowledge of art and human history as a backdrop, making his stories especially interesting and informative. In fact, that's often what I've enjoyed most about his lectures, the historical insights that come from his being so well read on the subject.

Terence gained and revealed a number of insights from his many psychedelic experiences, a few of which resonate deeply with my newfound take on reality. One is his 'novelty theory' - in general, the idea that the increasing complexity emerging throughout the universe signals the evolution of the collective consciousness, a process which will culminate in the birth of our next stage of consciousness. He connected a number of theories about time to this idea, all of which did not click for me after having experienced 'no time' as part of awakening. But this idea of novelty continuing to increase towards something - this is an idea that comes up in a number of guises from various teachers, and this idea definitely resonates. By which I mean it sounds like a truth I don't understand but do recognize.

His other insight that I found 'familiar' was about the existence of what Terence called 'the Great Eschaton' or the 'Transcendental Object At The End Of Time'. Terence spoke often over the years of the one large event/change/shift in the future that is sending 'shockwaves' of a sort back through time, prompting awakenings and intuitions that are quickly heralding changes to the millions of minds looking for a different way. As it happens, this concept actually aligns with new data coming from lab experiments which demonstrate an ability in humans to sense events, especially painful or negative ones, in the immediate future, which prompts the body to start reacting to the stimulus even before exposed. This is, of course, something we've all experienced as a sense of intuition or 'gut feeling'.

The Transcendental Object At The End Of Time - besides his books, the main reservoir holding Terence's teachings appears to be hundreds of YouTube videos from various lectures, retreats and the like. I'll be posting several of these links over time but to start, here's a compilation video (three and one half fabulous hours!) that offers a nice variety of video snippets from throughout Terence's career. An excellent segment on DMT starts @ 1:12:50 (no one describes these events like Terence) and another on the psychedelic experience here @ 1:45:25

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Elisabet Sahtouris

Lifeweb site, Personal website

Elisabet is an evolution biologist, furturist, and author and is involved with a number of national and international efforts aimed at bringing about the changes needed for our more balanced existence within Earth's ecosystems. You can find a brief bio here.
"The Globalization of humanity is a natural, biological, evolutionary process. Yet we face an enormous crisis because the most central and important aspect of globalization-its economy-is currently being organized in a manner that so gravely violates the fundamental principles by which healthy living systems are organized that it threatens the demise of our whole civilization" --Elisabet Sahtouris, 'The Biology of Globalization'
What's been helpful: Though I haven't spent much time in her area of expertise, I very much enjoy Elisabet's presentations every time I catch them, usually as part of SAND events. Her deep evolutionary knowledge is also informed by her non-dual spiritual approach and the way she intertwines the philosophies is intriguing. She's incredibly smart and well-spoken and always animated and clear when presenting even the most complex biological models. What makes her so effective is how she is able to frame the events she discusses in the grand sweep of earth's history and animal evolution. And you can also find in her work some engaging ideas about what a successful human culture should look like.

(I'm also diggin' the short video METAPHORmosis I found on her homepage.)

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