There are three worlds:
- The kingdom of earth (take a walk in the woods);
- The kingdom of mind (read a good book);
- The kingdom of heaven (take a strong dose of magic mushrooms).
Zen is direct pointing to reality outside the scriptures, in other words, entrance into the kingdom of earth through meditation.
Christianity is direct pointing to reality inside the scriptures, in other words, right ordering of the kingdom of mind through the logos.
Shamanism is direct pointing to reality beyond this world, in other words, entrance into the kingdom of heaven through psychedelics.
The three grow together like the three twisted strands of an ayahuasca vine. This is the essence of Shamanic Christian Zen: the three kingdoms of heaven, earth and mind evolving together, disclosing ever more of the infinite mysteries of existence.
Entrance into the kingdom of heaven and entrance into the kingdom of earth are both so-called “mystical experiences”, one internal and the other external. The kingdom of mind must be able to accommodate both types of experience in a coherent and convincing way, and religion is the only thing that can do this. Neither science nor philosophy are up to the task. Religion represents both the revealed Word of God in the kingdom of mind and the joining together (re-ligare) of the three worlds.
Divorced from mystical experience (Heaven and Earth) and/or religion (the Word), the mind-world and its culture becomes what the Rastafarians call Babylon. Without religion, mystical experience is blind; without mystical experience, religion is lame. Religion should be mystical and mysticism should be religious, otherwise they will both be colonised by the agents of Babylon.
Shamanism by itself is not strong enough; Christianity by itself is not strong enough; Zen by itself is not strong enough; but all three together can beat Babylon. However, not everyone wants to “beat Babylon” or “escape from Samsara”. Most people just want to get cosy in Babylon. Psychedelics, meditation and religion for the sake of therapy or a sense of community or consolation are motivated by the desire to get cosy in Babylon.
Ultimately, there are only two options when it comes to the existential motivation at the root of human life: get cosy in Babylon (the worldly-wise) or get out of Babylon (the gnostics). However, without a clear grasp of the panentheistic nature of God as both transcendent and immanent in the world, gnosticism soon degenerates into a life-denying dualistic heresy.
Shamanic Christian Zen aims at the integration of the kingdom of Heaven, the Word and the kingdom of Earth, all three of which are rooted in God. It is crucially important that in all the excitement and talk about Heaven and Earth, we don’t forget about God Himself. This is why we need the Word. The Word is the mediator between God and Man, both in the person of Jesus Christ, in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and in the actual words of Holy Scripture:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory.”
Another way to understand the relation between the kingdom of Heaven and the Word (in the kingdom of Mind), is in terms of the relation between the non-rational and the rational element in religious experience, as Rudolf Otto explains in The Idea of the Holy. The “numinous” kingdom of Heaven is experienced initially as “daemonic dread” and “awe”, as a Mysterium Tremendum et Fascinans, full of almost unbearable fiery power and energy, to the point that it is felt as Irae Dei, or the “wrath of God”. Only with the moral-rational infusion of the Word (logos) is the wild numen tamed and sublimated into the idea and experience of the holy proper, of the beneficent Good.
Putting the Zen aspect (the kingdom of Earth) to one side for a moment, Shamanic Christianity (or Psychedelic Christianity), is all about this confrontation with the “numinous”, not naked, but clothed in an “armour of light” (Romans 13:12), the logos, so as to be able to withstand the power of the numen and approach with confidence “the Holy One of Israel” (God) and “bear the beams of love”. Thus by internalising, taking to heart and embodying the logos (“the Word of God” become “the Word made flesh”), the numinous kingdom of Heaven is gradually made a holy kingdom and the psychedelic Christian a holy man or woman.