Soma Flow, Body Flow, Mind Flow

As every spiritual practitioner knows, it’s no good just reading endless books and learning all the theory under the sun. You need to actually do it, not just think about it. The map is not the territory.

A cognitive scientific way of saying the same thing (courtesy of John Vervaeke) is that real transformation is only possible if you move beyond the propositional level of knowing to the procedural, the perspectival and the participatory. These four levels of knowing can be applied to any of the archetypes on the Cross of Enlightenment (see the Home Page). For example, you can learn about shamanism (propositional knowledge), you can engage in shamanic rituals (procedural knowledge), you can take the shamanic perspective and you can find your shamanic mojo or flow.

The first stage (propositional) is theoretical and the second stage (procedural) is practical. You are learning about shamanism and practicing it. The third and fourth stages are different. At this level, you begin to embody shamanism to the point where you have the perspective of a shaman can actually consider yourself to be a shaman. The fourth stage of participatory flow is where you discover your shamanic power and become, not just a shaman, but a powerful shaman.

The Cross of Enlightenment is divided into three lines: the Mystic Shaman line, the Warrior Monk line and the Philosopher King line. Although each of these six archetypes has its own qualities and characteristics, we can also consider them as acting within three broad arenas, which we might call “the spiritual”, “the physical” and “the mental” arenas.

In psychedelic work, we begin with the spiritual, which involves intense meditative techniques that transcend the habitual patterns of discriminative thought. This frees us to “enter the dragon” and experience the inner workings of our energetic, somatic system. The Mystic Shaman therefore aims at a state of “soma flow”, which points both to the flow of the exogenous psychoactive Soma (the psychedelic “food of the gods”) throughout the bodymind, and the free flow of our endogenous psychosomatic life force within us.

As the experience abates in intensity, we return to the physical plane and begin to move and be moved by the body in the spontaneous martial art and dance moves of the Warrior Monk. This stage typically includes drumming and/or live or recorded music. This is the “body flow” stage.

Finally, we enter the Philosopher King stage of contemplative reflection, insight and insight cascades. This is the “mind flow” stage. The profound insights received at this stage feed back into the 4P system by providing us with improved and updated propositional knowledge, which deepens our subsequent procedural, perspectival and participatory knowledge. And on we go, “going, going, going on beyond, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha”, always awakening to an ever deeper, inexhaustible reality, “world without end”.