Adur Alkain wrote: ↑Thu Sep 09, 2021 10:16 am
I didn't see this thread until today.
I've had many psychedelic experiences, spanning three decades of my life, involving mainly psilocybin mushrooms, and I have some ideas about what bad trips actually mean. These are original ideas, based on my own experiences and the experiences of people I know, not on anything I've read (but I've read a lot about psychedelics).
I've come up with a sort of "model of the psychedelic path", which I can summarize like this:
That's a great description, Adur! I'm glad to see someone who could really make something out of these experiences.
Adur Alkain wrote: ↑Sat Sep 11, 2021 8:23 am
Something I didn't mention in my previous post, but I think is quite obvious, is that one has to go through all the doors in every trip. That's why I prefer to talk of "ego dissolution" instead of "ego death": because the ego doesn't actually die. When you come down from the trip, the ego comes back, and often with a vengeance!
The above is actually something very important and one of the major reasons why psychedelics in themselves
can never be considered a healthy spiritual path. This may take a while to explain.
I can speak from personal experience here because my own path was also triggered by substances (albeit as mild as cannabis, which some don't even consider psychedelic). Once I embarked on the actual path of Initiatic science it took me quite some years to undo the false habits that I've had unknowingly accumulated. And even to this day I can't say that everything is completely rectified. The bolded part above actually encodes much in itself. The main trouble with altered states of consciousness which are produced by external means is that our "I" is forced
into different conditions that we are obliged to deal with. In the process of dealing with them we explore different degrees of freedom of our spiritual activity that we probably didn't know about previously.
Imagine that suddenly we're stranded on an isolated island. We have to begin fighting for survival and in the process we come to know ourselves in completely different light. We discover many of our weaknesses that haven't had a chance to be exposed before, we develop new skills, hopefully we develop some useful qualities like courage, faith and so on. When we go through such a process usually all these experiences are firmly embedded into our metamorphic process - they become integral part of our being. Most of the time, things are different with psychoactive substances. The altered states are relatively short lived and the result is that we develop something like parallel versions of our "I" which not always integrate gracefully (as for example when the ego - which corresponds to our ordinary state of consciousness - returns with 'vengeance').
This is well known by those experienced in these domains. Charles Tart has a good book
on the matter. There he exactly explores the idea that different types of substances create quasi-stable states of consciousness which have specific characteristics. For example alcohol, cannabis, psilocybin intoxication all correspond to concrete discrete states of consciousness
, as he calls them. Similar ideas are explored by Thomas Roberts (for example in Mindapps: Multistate Theory and Tools for Mind Design
There are many dangers in these approaches which, unfortunately, can only be really appreciated once we step on the path that can explore these states through freely
willed spiritual activity. This is key. When states are induced by external means our "I" is not free
and as such we don't really have true awareness of what we really are.
Once we pass the first or even the second gate, undoubtedly we feel like a higher being. We can clearly perceive various elemental processes within which we are unconsciously embedded in our everyday life. Take something as brushing our teeth. There are hardly too many people who actually do that consciously. Usually we're going through tons of other thoughts that have nothing to do with what we're doing. Those experienced with some substances have probably been occasionally struck by becoming conscious of certain movements, gestures that are part of our normal life but we've never really been conscious of. When approaching the first gate it is quite easy to see our whole ordinary life as composed of such elemental processes (Adur calls them egoic structures). This goes not only for physical movements but our thought and speech habits too. We can discover how most of our thoughts and the things we say are actually such elemental templates
. Our whole language, as a matter of fact, is a palette of such templates. That's why it is so important to understand exercises such as "I think the speech" where we can gradually distinguish the free spiritual activity that propels the templates and in contrast to this we can discern how most of the time in everyday life we simply witness successions of templates that unfold pretty much on their own.
These things are quite vivid as we approach the first gate. We recognize our sensory self within these templates and believe that we actually overcome it. But as Adur has pointed out, our "I" being is something infinitely more deeper than the elemental processes that weave the shells of our everyday self (by the way, all this I've attempted to describe in the Man, know thyself
With all this said, we have to really not fall for the trap that just because we've seen how the sensory-intellectual shells are being cast off, that we've overcome the 'ego'. We are always midway. Even when we are approaching the third gate, we're not at all the 'pure' consciousness as we would like to imagine. There are now other kinds of templates, of higher soul and spirit character in which we are unconsciously flowing, just as we are flowing unconsciously in the sensory-intellectual shell templates of our ordinary self.
This is the main danger of psychedelics - that we very easily believe that in the altered state we live in some kind of pristine and pure consciousness and that everything of manifested kind belongs to the Earthly shells. This is one of the most self-blinding illusions that we can succumb into
The reason we succumb so easily in it is because we are not really free
in the altered state. The wool is being pulled before our spiritual eyes by higher order forces that we simply have no means to discern. Our Earthly life and education teaches us to discern the contents of the senses and think about them. When we enter the Imaginative realm without any preparation we face a completely homogeneous environment and people say in exaltation "It's all One! I was One with the Universe!" But we are 'One' just as much as if a person born blind has an operation that restores his vision, sees for the first time, beholds an amalgamation of color, and says "The world is One - it's just one big blob of color!" It's about time to face the facts are realize that it's all One simply because we have not yet developed our organs that can discern the fine folds within that World.
All this is very different when we work gradually and patiently. The ego in that case is not something that we simply separate from and believe that we're now free from it. We have to work on the education of the sensory-intellectual husks
. We have to make them follow the higher moral ideas that we instill with our "I". In this way not only that we rise through the gates as result of our free spiritual activity but the shells of our Earthly self don't really forcefully separate just to later hurl at us with vengeance. Instead, our Earthly shells become the most important tool
for us. They are our spiritual hands with which we reach into the sensory realm and through which we in fact translate
the higher order cognitive experiences into intellectual concepts and deeds. This can actually be taken as a golden rule when we rise in the higher worlds - our Earthly self must always be in our field of consciousness
. If we lose sight of it, it only means that it has merged as chameleon with the background while we believe that we're exploring 'pure' consciousness. The fact that the Earthly self is always at sight doesn't mean that we can't rise too high because we're weighed down by it. We gain absolutely nothing if we experience ourselves journeying in hyperspace where there's no trace of our Earthly self. When we're back we simply can't relate any of the experiences to our normal life. It's hardly necessary to give any examples. Most people returning from DMT breakthroughs can only say that 'it was out of this world, awesome, amazing, etc., etc.' yet when they're back with the intellect they have no clue how all this relates to our normal life - was it real? Was it a dream? All this is completely different when we ascend to the same these 'hyperspace' regions in full freedom, out of our own spiritual activity and can continuously experience the Time-Consciousness gradient all the way to every fiber of our Earthly being. Only in this way we begin to really understand how the higher worlds play out in our everyday life.
So let's look again at the third gate. This has been spoken about in different contexts many times here. First, to put things in even better perspective, let's be clear that every one of us goes through these gates each night when we go to sleep (or at least the first two, depending on how deep our sleep is).
We cross the first gate in the process of drifting off to sleep. Waking thinking dissolves and usually this is the moment we lose consciousness. Crossing the second gate happens soon after that, which is no other but the loosening
of the astral (soul) body and the "I" from the physical and etheric (life) body which stay much more tightly coupled. If the "I" is to gain consciousness in this state, it results in what we simply call dreaming
. Crossing the second gate with the help of psychedelics is the alert experience of loosening the astral body - the same thing that happens every night - but without interruption of consciousness. Or so it is at least for those who have instinctively developed some means to retain consciousness after the second gate - as Adur has. There are many other people who after the first gate (where the intellect collapses but there's still very vivid imagery) lose consciousness after the astral body is loosened. Or at most they do remember that something did happen but simply can't make anything of it. This actually leads us to another golden rule - we can remember in our ordinary intellectual state only that which was grasped in concepts in the higher worlds
. This from another angle shows why we need our Earthly shells to be at hand all the time - unless we translate the higher experiences down the gradient into concepts within these shells, we simply won't remember anything useful from the whole experience.
In normal life it almost never happens that we enter the dream state directly from the waking. There's always loss of consciousness when we drift off and only at some other point consciousness lightens up again as dreaming. Returning to the sensory shells from dreaming can be experienced more often. Being awakened by someone/something while dreaming can give us some experience of this process but usually it happens too rapidly to notice anything interesting. We can have more substantial experiences if we are lucid dreaming and consciously awake in the body. Then we experience much more clearly the crossing of the second gate in reverse - the reconnection with the bodily senses.
Of course, just like psychedelics, dream states are not of great value for spiritual investigation because we're also not free in them. The only proper way to walk the gate gradient is by gradually and safely develop our whole being. It is not just a mind trick. We need to work with our feelings and will too. Unless we develop a High Ideal and set out to purify our life of feelings, there are certain living processes in the astral body which we we'll always feel repelled to meet consciously, thus the crossing of the second gate could never happen - subconsciously we don't want
it to happen because we'll have to become aware of deeply disturbing truths.
We reach the third gate. In normal life this is the point of entering deep dreamless
sleep. The astral body becomes even more expanded into the spheres and the etheric body (which while dreaming reflects the dream imagery) can't really reflect anything that an uninitiated "I" could consciously experience. We simply don't have the concepts and the finer spiritual organization to grasp the happenings at that stage.
Adur describes that as we experience the crossing of the third gate (which is like entering deep dreamless sleep from the psychedelic state) everything dissipates into nothingness, we ultimately lose consciousness. Upon returning we know for certain that we spent time in that state. That is - the only thing
that this void state has in common
with the states of consciousness that we know from our waking and dreaming life, is the experience of duration
This is as far as we can go
when relying on training based on the popular Eastern methods. As this has been discussed previously - it is
possible to have consciousness beyond the third gate. This must sound outrageous for those who have experienced the dissolution in the void. They would say "How can this be possible? Everything dissolves! How can still be experiences when everything returns to the absolute nothingness?"
Let's use the following metaphor. Our experiences, perceptions, thoughts are 'things'. Let's imagine them as some number, magnitude of things. As we approach the third gate these 'things' begin to dissipate - their magnitude decreases. Ultimately, in the absolute nothingness the magnitude becomes zero
. Everything is gone. But there's actually a way to continue even further
. We go beyond zero and now the magnitude becomes - negative
! Yes, as we cross the third gate, properly prepared for that, after we pass the nothingness we encounter a World which is 'made of' less than nothingness
- it is not simply the absence
of thingness (which is nothingness), it is negative thingness
. This is what in esoteric traditions is called the Spiritual World proper or Devachan (World of archetypal beings).
When we cross the first gate we live in Imaginative consciousness and weave within the processes of the etheric body. In various traditions this is know as the Elemental World. After the astral body is loosened at the second gate it can be said that we enter the Astral (Soul) World. At this stage we still use the etheric body to reflect to us the images (Imaginations) but now they are much less related to things having to do with our corporeal life (which includes the mineral and life body). In the astral body we can relate with beings and processes that have much more existential character - our relations with other souls, souls of the departed, the web of destiny (Karma) and even some of the higher beings. Yet all these astral experiences are still reflected in the ether. This is something of tremendous importance and source of great illusions unless one is prepared. All Imaginations relate to their actual spiritual causes as wax relates to the seal. They are kind of negative impression of processes that we experience in the soul. For example, if we see in this state a beast hurling at us, we must be fully aware that this is not an actual creature but the way our etheric body is able to reflect, for example, a passion
that lives in our astral body.
As we cross the third gate all Imaginative reflections cease. Then we enter Inspirative cognition
. Actually this is also how we train for the attainment of Inspirative consciousness. When we train for Imaginative consciousness, we concentrate on image, a thought. I've given various examples. When we are sufficiently advanced, our inner discernment becomes so refined that we can clearly distinguish the experience of the actual meaning
of the image from the etheric reflection (color, sound, etc.). We begin to train for Inspirative consciousness when we fully consciously eradicate the Imaginative element and live only in the ideal
element - the meaning. Even in the early stages of this training we already begin to glimpse how we can live in a World of meaning, even though all perceptual content is completely gone. This ideal element is what constitutes the negative thingness.
As we cross the third gate, the threshold of the Spiritual World, we begin to become aware that everything is filled with Thoughts. Not our personal thoughts but entities of pure meaning which weave, interact and in fact constitute the true fabric of reality. Everything that we experience in the Imaginative realm are only reflections of the higher worlds, within our own soul and bodily sheaths
. When this states decoheres even further as we cross the first gate in reverse, everything becomes even further fragmented - Imaginations break down into sensory perceptions and rigid (mineral-like) thoughts about them.
I've underlined the above words because there's something extremely important about them. Everything that we experience in the sensory and Imaginative realms have distinguished personal undertone. Even in the astral world we still feel that we're a soul entity and we experience living processes within our own soul substance. All this radically changes when we cross the third gate. Superficially we can imagine that going from positive to negative is like going from the right of the number axis to the left - in other words, both left and right are still before our eyes. But we can only grasp this properly if we picture that the positive (where the Imaginative thingness exists) is in front our soul eyes, while to go in the negative our soul must turn 'inside-out'.
I realize that the above means absolutely nothing to most but it is possible to gain some approximate feeling for it if we try. Let's imagine that in our ordinary state, and even in the Imaginative (astral world), we feel like a being, an entity which is confronted with perceptions, Imaginations, etc. They approach us from around, so to speak. As we cross the third gate it becomes the opposite. It's like our true being comes from all directions, from the periphery, it is shaped by the Cosmic Thoughts and projects everything in the center, where our lower being is formed.
Now this inversion can never
come about without a very specific change in our soul disposition. In the lower worlds we feel more or less as coherent being, it feels as if we possess what we are. After the inversion we can not say the same. We need a very specific soul mood of absolute trust
. We cannot encompass the periphery as something that we enwrap and call 'my consciousness'. In the Spiritual World our consciousness belongs to the Cosmos
. It streams from the starry Heavens, passes through the planetary spheres and focuses at a point on Earth (only figuratively speaking. Spatial relations don't exist in the same sense as in 3D space). We can only approach an understanding of this state if we fill our soul with complete devotion, absolute trust and we say "I live by grace of this Spiritual instream. It is my true essential being, even though I can't fit it into my microcosmic thoughts, not even into Imaginations".
We would never go too far beyond the third gate if we stay at the above stage. True, we'll live in the instream of Cosmic thoughts of sublime Beings, recognize in full lucidity how our own consciousness is only our free
modification of these streams, but we wouldn't be able to go much further. We need a way to find our bearings in that World where the Cosmic Thoughts weave from all directions. We only accomplish this when we recognize a higher Center within this World. This Center is the Sun Logos. It's an actual being that we behold. When we align with it, become concentric to it, the Spiritual World comes into perspective
. We simply don't have an "I" in Spiritland otherwise. The sensory-intellectual shells and the Imaginative soul of the lower worlds can't give us proper consciousness above. We attain to that consciousness only when we become resonant with the Cosmic "I", which is the actual spiritual archetype of every "I"-experience in the lower worlds.
We shouldn't imagine that once we align with the Cosmic "I" we come to possess it. Not at all. First, we must be clear that upon entering the Spiritual World we are faced with a decision
. Here in the forum there's constant debate about whether the reality is thus constituted that everyone can do whatever they want (form interest groups eventually) or we're part of a much grander Cosmic unfoldment. When we cross the third gate this debate is resolved for us. It is crystal clear that our soul desires for independent exploration can only exist within the lower worlds. These worlds in themselves however don't have independent existence. They are precipitations of the higher. One may imagine that when we face this reality one automatically chooses to work in accordance with the higher worlds. But this is not at all the case. That's why we are faced with the decision
. On one hand we behold the truth - we've crossed the third gate in full consciousness and live in the Spiritual World concealed behind every phenomena, being, stars and planets, behind our thoughts, our feelings and deeds. Now we know
that the Cosmos unfolds according to a higher plan - the part of consciousness that can doubt this or desire otherwise is now in a lower world. We may decide to employ all our energies through Love, for the realization of this plan, which alone
brings freedom to men and makes them fully conscious citizens of the Divine Cosmos. But at the same this is opposed with a lure
that can be stronger than anything we know from our sensory life. It's the lure to use our knowledge in order to experience whatever we ourselves desire, completely disregarding the Cosmic unfoldment. This is the moment when the the disciple has to make firm decision if he'll walk the white
or the black
path. If we choose the black path, we voluntarily limit our existence within the astral world and below. These worlds become the arena where we'll pursue our own strivings. This pursuit won't last forever though. Just as the pursuit of Earthly desires is limited between the points of birth and death, so the pursuit of independent goals in the astral are also limited between points of a higher rhythm of the Spiritual World. As the astral world will approach its dissolution, conditions will become more and more dire for the beings that have chosen to pursue their own goals, believing that the conditions for this will last eternally. In the meantime they have failed to develop the spiritual organization that would allow them to be free, fully conscious beings in the Spiritual World. These beings will indeed enter the Spiritual World but without any means of having "I"-experience there, they'll pass through dim dreamlike existence until the next grand cycle where an astral realm will manifest once more and they'll have a chance to continue their evolution, although in different conditions. Nothing ever repeats in the same way. (in this way I've unwittingly related to Shu's post here
The white path is the spiritual life that takes into consideration the full spectrum of reality. It is a life of creativity and freedom, life propelled by the purest impulses of sacrificial Love because by working out of Love for the Whole we work for the greatest good of all beings - including ours. We can only be free if we understand the structure of reality. Otherwise we end up like the beings who initially enjoy their apparent freedom but unknowingly restrict themselves more and more with each additional step. This is all too obvious in our normal life. It takes nothing but sound thinking to realize that it's the same in all Worlds.