"... the ego is a contraction. Love is expansion, a feeling of spaciousness.” Jean Klein
I invite you to notice what emotions arise in you, as you read the following. When our ego feels threatened - and it doesn't take very much at all - we react as if our life were at risk! AND we externalize - project BLAME outside of ourselves - in this case, the authors of these quotes and or myself. One mark of spiritual maturation is, instead of projecting, examining what OUR contribution is to our frequent emotional 'tempests in a teapot.' We'll never be able to fully control our external environment, however, our internal environment is FAR more cooperative!
“I define awakening as ‘an experience of clarity, revelation, and joy in which we become aware of a deeper (or higher) level of reality, perceive a sense of harmony and meaning, and transcend our normal sense of separateness from the world.’
Awakening experiences occur when we temporarily transcend our normal state of being – or, more strictly speaking, our normal self-system. The structure of our normal self-system – with its strong sense of ego, firm boundaries, and automatic perception – dissolves away, like a tent swept away in a wind. This can happen in times of inner relaxation and stillness, when our normal thought-chatter fades away and there’s a higher level of energy inside us, infusing our perceptions and enabling us to perceive the world more vividly. This is why awakening experiences are often generated by contact with nature, meditation, watching or listening to arts performances, and other sedate, mind-quieting activities.
Alternatively, our normal self-system may be temporarily swept away as a result of intense stress and psychological turmoil. In fact, my research shows that intense psychological turmoil – perhaps caused by loss, failure, divorce, or bereavement – is the most common trigger of awakening experiences (with contact with nature, meditation, and watching or listening to arts performances following closely behind). Turmoil and stress can be like an earthquake, breaking down the structure of the normal self and allowing a more expansive and intense state of being to unfold.”
Steve Taylor. “The Leap. The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.” New World Library, 2017.
“The loss of self is the essence of trauma.” Gabor Maté MD
As a consequence of trauma, a relatively healthy sense of self is lost and replaced by an armored "false self" or "noisy ego". Healing trauma involves carefully letting go of the heavily-defended, armored false self, leaving behind a more authentic sense of self or "quiet ego." This requires gentle patience, perseverance and ideally, expert professional help. (Dr. Gabor Maté Interview - The Tim Ferriss Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9B5mYfBPlY)
Another term for awakening may be a genuinely revelatory mystical experience - "the revelation that the socialized ego, historical persona or religious identity is not all we are.” (Jeff Kripal) Most of us are so completely identified with - completely lost within - our own stories, that it usually takes something radical to at least briefly "part the veil" so we can have a brief peak at the way things actually are. Awakening experiences, as mentioned in a previous blog (http://www.johnlovas.com/2021/03/fascinating-overlap.html) can also be induced by entheogens - the fastest, most radical pathway to awakening. I personally have never tried any entheogens or other psychoactive substances. The specific effect of these powerful drugs is highly dependent on "set & setting": safe, supportive healing environment, medical expertise & healing intention.
“There’s nothing wrong with the ego. The ego has been demonized by a lot of different new age communities and spiritual teachings. Just the phrasing, the association of the ego is quite negative. But the ego is just the construct that allows you to navigate in this realm. The ego is the vessel builder that actually allows you to engage in any particular way.
But what’s happened as we move through life is that we experience some sort of painful experience, that isn’t allowed to complete its full cycle and properly discharge, as it would if it wasn’t inhibited, it gets stored in the system, and then we develop what’s called a compensatory action or behavior. And that’s what we build our personalities, our identities on top of. We’re actually armoring up so that we don’t need to go back to that sensation that was inherently overwhelming, which felt like if we felt that thing, we would die. And so we develop all these coping mechanisms to avoid these things that we carry inside of us. And that becomes our personality, that becomes our identity. And that’s what I call your consciousness structure.
And so we have to actually disassemble that structure. And as we disassemble that structure, all of those suppressed and repressed aspects of ourselves actually come up - they surface to be felt, and to be expressed, and to be discharged. And then we’re left in kind of a fluid place, where we can now craft a new consciousness structure, a new vessel that can carry, guide and direct consciousness in a different, liberated way. And when you’re coming back from the non-dual space, it’s like you can witness the construct building itself again, block by block, very very rapidly, as the mind, and the emotion, and the armoring, all comes back and solidifies again back into a cohesive whole – maybe with a few pieces altered, with some energy released. And it’s in this discombobulated state that the integration really happens, because you come back a new person. ‘OK, how do I exist in the world now, from this new vantage point, without all of the armoring, defense mechanisms, and the coping strategies, and the behaviors that I had carried up until this point? How do I actually craft a new identity?’ And that’s really where the work begins.
As the ceremony comes to completion, the rest of the ceremony of life begins. And this is one of the main things that is important to communicate, which is tied to what we were describing before about the potential pitfalls of the ceremonial spaces, is that these realms – not just bufo or 5 MEO DMT, but with any psychedelic or plant medicine, they’re not meant to be separate from the rest of life. They’re actually meant to reveal us to ourselves, so that we can actually live in a more optimized, more holistic, more integrated, more whole state of being. They (plant medicines) are teachers that are teaching us how to be human. And they have existed on this planet far longer than we have. Mushrooms are actually our ancestors. (There’s an interesting documentary “Fantastic Fungi” on Netflix.) Mushrooms are revealing us to ourselves so we can live in an optimized state.
It’s fascinating when you start observing this not only in yourself, but also in others. You come to see that every person’s identity is a construct, not just an idea, but as an actual reality. Every personality is actually just a construct. It’s just a combination of stories, which is one of the reasons why I respect the work that you do so much, about actually going into the mythos – the myths that actually generate and create and supplement the human experience. Because every single one of us is just a combination of stories. And these medicines really ask us to consider ‘Who am I, when I remove all of my stories? What is left?’”
A Psychedelic Guide to Healing Trauma - Deus Fortier (The Impeccable Man) The Mythic Masculine (1hr 50min podcast) : https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-mythic-masculine/id1487709630?i=1000532409278
|The Storyteller - Inuit whalebone carving from: Donald Kalsched "Trauma and the Soul" 2013|