Psychedelic Mysticism

The highest possible psychedelic vision is the vision of the One.

This is similar to the unitive vision of the mystic, but not identical.

Both visions are encapsulated in the statement, “All is One”.

Both are experiential, intuitive, embodied, felt visions,

Far more real than mere theoretical, intellectual intuitions.

The psychedelic vision, however, has a stronger noetic quality.

For the duration of the experience, there is only the One

In exclusive, complete and resplendent clarity.

The most ancient and unambiguous symbol of the One is AUM,

The primordial sound of the Indian Vedas.

AUM is the Singularity from which the All proceeds

And in which All subsist.

Although One, it is composed of three distinct elements:

A – Parashiva;

U – Shiva;

M – Shakti.

Parashiva is “One without a Second”,

Pure subjective consciousness without any conscious object.

This is God the Father in Heaven,

Infinite Being-Consciousness-Bliss (Satchidananda).

Shiva is “Self consciousness”,

The inner spark or soul of every living thing.

This is the Son of God,

The indwelling Christ, Atman or Buddha Nature.

Shakti is “the Many”,

The infinite multiplicity of All and Everything.

This is the Holy Spirit,

The Creation transfigured as a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Psychedelic mysticism is about remembering the One (AUM);

Remembering the Two (Parashiva, Shiva);

And remembering the Many (Shakti).

Shakti proceeds from Parashiva and Shiva

(The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son);

Only Shiva can approach Parashiva

(No one comes to the Father except through the Son);

AUM contains Parashiva, Shiva and Shakti

(The Trinitarian God is Three-in-One).

For more on these last three points, see chapter 18 of The Confessions of a Psychedelic Christian, “Three, Two, One: Heaven, Earth, Hell”, chapter 34, “What’s Behind the Wall?” and the blog posts, How to Approach the Unapproachable and The DMT God and the Mushroom Christ.

Silver and Gold

What should you think about on psychedelics? If you start your trip with a negative mindset, especially if your mind is swarming with ants (anxious negative thoughts), you are setting yourself up for an unpleasant journey. Hence the importance of “set and setting”.

Second worse to a bad trip, however, is no trip. Pre-session nerves generally revolve around fear or greed: the sweaty fear of a bad trip or the burning desire for a good one. Both can derail the experience: fear obviously makes a bad trip more likely and greed makes a good one less.

So what should you think about? Thoughts have an extraordinarily powerful effect on your state of consciousness when you’re under the influence. “Right thought” isn’t just about avoiding bad experiences and damping down the flames of fear, anxiety and paranoia, but also about encouraging positive experiences and fanning the flames of shamanic power. The right thought at the right time can raise the frequency of a mild psychedelic buzz, just barely ticking over, to a full-blooded high pitch of intensity firing on all cylinders.

Such is the power of thought. And the most powerful thoughts are religious thoughts, that is, “the Word of God”. Which is why religious education and training is so important for the manifestation of spiritually powerful, transformative psychedelic experiences.

Pistis is essential. However, it’s no good just mouthing the words without actually believing them. Pistis is not pistis without faith. And the mushroom is no sucker: it knows whether you really mean it or not.

To wake the slumbering spirit of the psychedelic dragon, drop a silver Word into the lake of your mind. And to send the dragon deeper into the lake, drop golden Silence.

For words are silver, but silence is golden. And it is the skillful use of both the silver and gold of pistis and kenosis that will take you all the way, bare-back dragon-riding, to the blessed isles of spiritual enlightenment and bliss.

What’s so Religious about Psychedelics?

Religion literally means “re-connection” (from the Latin, re-ligare). Psychedelics also have a mysterious but powerful capacity to reconnect us in all sorts of ways. They reconnect us to ourselves, to our our feelings, hopes and dreams, our imagination and creativity, our senses and bodies, to our shadow side and all the disowned, dissociated parts of our personality. They reconnect us to our spiritual nature, to our soul, to God, to life and the Source of life.

Us moderns are lonely creatures, and never more so than in a crowd. We feel disconnected from the people around us, or at least not fully, deeply connected. Our social and romantic relations are weak and tenuous, superficial and trivial, easily displaced by others, washed away in a “liquid modernity”. We relate to family and friends at levels of intimacy barely above those of colleagues and acquaintances. We are constantly told that “we’re all connected”, but deep down we feel profoundly disconnected from people, from society, from politics, from religion, from nature. The more severely alienated among us feel disconnected from our own bodies and minds, from food, from love, from sex, from gender, from place, from purpose, from meaning, from beauty, from humour, from joy, from the past, from the future, from the present moment.

Of course I am exaggerating to make a point. My point is that ultimately, we are either connected to life, through all the threads of human experience that converge upon it, or else we are disconnected. And that when we are disconnected, we need to reconnect. We need to re-member, to re-join, to re-ligare. We need religio. Traditionally we have done this through rituals, which have been planted in the world to remind us to reconnect to life and the Source of life. We have done this weekly, by attending religious houses of worship, or daily, through morning and evening prayers. Practicing Muslims do this at least five times a day.

Ultimately, we have an existential choice: God or Babylon. Either we stay connected to Babylon, to the “web”, to the “matrix”, through filaments of emaciated desire, or we remember God and reconnect with the living flame of Love at the centre of life, the universe and everything.

Most of us are so lost in Babylon, that we don’t even know we are lost, or else know it, but refuse to be found. We are in unconscious despair, suffering from the “sickness unto death”. We would rather stay disconnected than reconnect.

For many people in the grip of this existential Kierkegaardian despair, the only way out is through contact with the power of psychedelics. For many of us, we are so far gone that the psychedelic experience is the only way we can rediscover the fullness of life. A Hindu might say that in the Kali Yuga, people need strong soma to wake them up. A Christian might say that in deepest, darkest Babylon, we need strong medicine to graft us back into the True Vine.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

John 15: 5-6

The Presence of the Divine

“But – we may well be asked – has it any meaning to ask for ‘the presence of the Divine’? Does not that Sacramental idea at once cancel itself, when thought out? Is not God ‘omnipresent’ and ‘really present’ always and everywhere?

Such a view is often put forward, and with a confident air of assurance which is in sharp conflict with the testimony of genuine religious experience; so much so, indeed, that one is tempted to venture a very blunt reply to it. We say, then, that this doctrine of the omnipresence of God – as thought by a necessity of His being He must be bound to every time and to every place, like a natural force pervading space – is a frigid invention of metaphysical speculation, entirely without religious import. Scripture knows nothing of it. Scripture knows no ‘Omnipresence’, neither the expression nor the meaning it expresses; it knows only the God who is where He wills to be, and is not where He wills not to be, the deus mobilis, who is no mere universally extended being, but an august mystery, that comes and goes, approaches and withdraws, has its time and hour, and may be far or near in infinite degrees, ‘closer than our breathing’ to us or miles remote from us. The hours of His ‘visitation’ and His ‘return’ are rare and solemn occasions, different essentially not only from the ‘profane’ life of every day, but also from the calm confiding mood of the believer, whose trust is to live ever before the face of God. They are the topmost summits in the life of the spirit. They are not only rare occasions, they must needs be so for our sakes, for no creature can bear often or for long the full nearness of God’s majesty in its beatitude and its awefulness. Yet there must still be such times, for they show the bright vision and completion of our sonship, they are a bliss in themselves and potent for redemption. They are the real sacrament, in comparison with which all high official ceremonials, Masses, and rituals the world over become the figurings of a child. And a Divine Service would be the truest which led up to such a mystery and the riches of grace that ensue upon the realization of it. And if it be asked whether a Divine Service be able to achieve this, let us answer that, though God indeed comes where and when He chooses, yet He will choose to come when we sincerely call upon Him and prepare ourselves truly for His visitation.”

Rudolf Otto

Strait is the Gate

“Religion is a defense against religious experience.”

What does this mean?

All pistis and no gnosis makes Jack a dull boy.

So should we forget about religion then?

No.

All gnosis and no pistis makes Jack a dull boy.

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Matthew 7:14

The Way of the Holy Mushroom

We come to ceremony for guidance and healing. We are beset by the six modes of suffering on the Wheel of Babylon and want release and relief. We want to break free.

Mostly, people who come are Divas. The first step on the Way therefore is to break free from our Diva Nature. This means that we must let go of everything we think we know and understand. We have been Birds of Appetite for years, but must leave the carcasses we feed on if we are to take flight.

We must leave the mytho-poetic world of our imaginations behind, our favourite stories and dreams, our pet ideas and theories. We must become like little children, poor in spirit, free of thought. We must become mystics.

The second step on the Way is to drop into the body and enter the dragon. We must awaken our living flesh and blood into electric life. We must become shamans.

The third step is to train our warrior spirit, to channel the true power of the peaceful warrior. Not the power of self will and effort but the power of selfless will and effortlessness.

The fourth step is to develop a monk’s simplicity and sufficiency. Like Brother Lawrence we must learn to see the divine beauty shining in all things, especially the humblest, the stones, the leaves, the air.

The fifth step is to deepen our philosophical acuity. The sixth is to remember our divine sovereignty.

The final step is to be a good friend.

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

John 15:15

The Sun of God

Imagine there’s a a sun in the heart of every human being, covered with a thick black blanket. Some people believe in the sun and some people don’t. Those who believe read about it in sacred sun scriptures, which contain special teachings about the sun of God. Each teaching is like a set of coordinates pointing to a specific point on the black sphere. The believers dutifully mark the point on a map. As they progress through the teachings, they collect more and more points on their map and begin to notice connections between them. The rationalist types will find logical connections and the very keen ones will even go to the trouble of developing a philosophical system based on these connections. They might call it “theology”. The non-rationalist types will find correspondences between the points via sympathetic magic. Some will even build a fantastical, poetical system and call it “theosophy”.

Other believers will come along and look at the map and try their best to follow the directions and precepts put there by the map-makers. These are the followers of “exoteric” religion. They are mostly interested in what they should do and how they should behave. The more closely they follow the map, the better they feel about themselves.

But rather than marking, listing, organizing and mapping the original sacred teachings into a system, there are those believers who just receive the teachings as they are given. You could say they “meditate” on them, reading them with a special attitude of receptive attention called “lectio divina”. Often they get a vague sense of what the teaching is really pointing to, but occasionally, the penny drops, they experience an epiphany, a “eureka” moment, and a hole is opened in the blanket. Light shines through the blanket, like a star in the night sky.

These are the followers of “esoteric religion”. They do not claim credit for this “shining through”. They understand that they were just in the right place at the right time. They are blessed with each revelation through an act of mysterious grace from beyond. They were in a sacred place, and a holy word tore a hole in the blanket of the heart.

First one star, then two, then eventually, as they continue to study and meditate on the sacred scriptures, hundreds begin to shine. Now instead of points on a two-dimensional map, they can see the actual contours, and the shape and size of the sun plotted in three dimensions, not through inferential, deductive reason or creative imagination, but with their own eyes. A sun made of stars.

These believers, who can see the sun, can see the organic relations between each of the “stars” and intuit the simple whole of which they are expressions. They are the “holy men” and “holy women”, who have direct access to the divine, and have developed the faculty of divination, which is the ability to see and experience the holy in the real world.

It can happen that the holes are big enough and numerous enough that a tipping point is reached (often triggered by a psychedelic blast) and the sun bursts through and burns up the blanket completely. These are not just holy men and women. These are the “suns of God”.

“I heard the voice of Jesus say,

‘I am this dark world’s Light;

Look unto me, thy morn shall rise,

And all thy days be bright:’

I looked to Jesus, and I found

In him my Star, my Sun;

And in that light of life I’ll walk

Till travelling days are done.”

The Hardest Lesson

The hardest lesson and the greatest gift of the psychedelic experience is to “lose your mind and come to your senses”. This doesn’t mean that you literally have no mind (except in the Zen Buddhist sense of mu-shin) but that your centre of awareness shifts from the left brain hemisphere to the right hemisphere. If you don’t know what the significance of this is, please read Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

Left hemisphere activity is basically linguistic and rational. This is where we are when we try to make sense of the world and control it by fitting it into a system of mental concepts and categories. In many contexts, in society at large, this works fine. On psychedelics, this is a sure recipe for a bad trip.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is within”: whether you are in a blissful heavenly realm or a tormented hellish realm, you are in the spiritual dimension, the “Kingdom of Heaven”. The psychedelic vision quest is an inner spiritual journey and the battle is an inner spiritual battle. The more centred in the right hemisphere, and the more suspended the left, the better things will go for you.

As soon as your rational mind, through fear, decides to put a stop to the trip and to come out of the Kingdom, to take control, to get things back to normal, to “go home”, the cogs of left hemisphere madness begin to spin. And the more you try to control the experience, the more out of control it gets.

The classic psychedelics, ayahuasca, peyote, magic mushrooms, LSD, DMT, are powerful sacred medicines. They are spiritual, not mental, agents of self-discovery. If you allow your rational ego to take the reins, if you get up and leave your assigned position in the ceremony hall, if you break the sacred circle, you will suffer the consequences. What you are actually doing in pulling yourself out of the sacred space of the inner “Kingdom of Heaven” is wrenching your consciousness out of right hemisphere connectedness back into left hemisphere control, which feels safer, because more familiar. The familiar, habitual mental world system of the left hemisphere is “home”. And you want to go home.

But you’re not in Kansas any more, and there’s no going home for the duration of the trip. Either you follow the yellow brick road, or you lose your mind in the psychiatric sense. And if you’re not careful, and you get trapped in the hall of mirrors that is the dissociated left hemisphere, you might just end up calling a mental institution “home”.

The hardest lesson is to let go, to let go of your desire to control everything and have your way, to let go of your ego, to let go of your own little kingdom. And the greatest gift is the boundless freedom, joy and peace that this endless letting go confers on the buffeted soul.

“Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own desiring to know or be anything.” (Isaac Pennington)

Trust and respect

Transformative, deep psychological change is only possible in therapy where there is a solid therapeutic alliance between therapist and client. And a solid therapeutic alliance is only possible where there is trust and respect.

The same is true of psychedelics. However high the dose, you won’t get very far unless you trust and respect the mushroom. And you may get badly burned.

But please remember: no matter how difficult or challenging your experience, you are developing, at the very least, strength and stamina, patience and courage.

There is no such thing as a bad trip where there is trust and respect.

Trust the holy mushroom.

Trust yourself.

Trust the process.

Trust the setting.

Trust the music.

Trust the guide.

Trust God.