Dogen Zenji said that, “to forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things”.

This is the via negativa.

However, it is also true that, to commune with myriad things is to forget the self.

This is the via positiva.

The end result is the same: “your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.”

The via negativa is practised in “formless meditation” and dis-identification from all the various contents of the ego and discriminative mind (i.e. the left hemisphere).

The via positiva is practised in “form meditation” and communion with various objects of awareness and attention using the intuitive mind (i.e. the right hemisphere).

Both ways support each other. They are complementary, not contradictory.

If you are communing with Nature, you become immersed in your environment. The boundary between you and the world around you begins to soften. You may even reach the point of “no boundary” and feel completely at one with life. But this is only possible with an attitude of openness and non-judgmental acceptance. You are not trying to analyze, interrogate, categorize or understand Nature objectively or scientifically. You are simply there to commune with it.

The same is true of reading or listening to music. If you are straining to decode, deconstruct, critique or interpret a poem or sonata, you are setting yourself against it in the controlling mode of the left hemisphere. You are identified with your analytical mind and experience it through the filter of your ego.

On the other hand, if you read a poem with an attitude of lectio divina, and savour every word and phrase for its own sake, simply and trustfully, in good faith, you will find that the boundary between reader and read also begins to soften and dissolve. You find yourself communing with the text rather than merely studying it or analyzing it. You are reading with the right hemisphere. You are reading for pleasure.

To enjoy and appreciate art and Nature, we need to commune with art and Nature and we need to forget the controlling, thinking self. The same is true of religion and psychedelics. Religious experiences and psychedelic experiences are experiences of intimate and intense communion and ego dissolution.

So The Way of the Holy Mushroom is primarily a positive way of communion, although it necessarily also includes the negative way of dis-identification. We commune with the mushroom, commune with the mantra, commune with the music, commune with the silence, commune with friends, commune with Nature. And we let go of the ego.

Holy communion is communion that heals us and makes us whole. The word is made flesh, touched by and touching “the peace that passeth all understanding” and “the love that moves the sun and the other stars”. For we have the mind of Christ, and the body and the blood. Bone of my bone, marrow of my marrow, He is nearer to me than I am to my self.