Friday, November 25, 2016

Steps to the Sky


The Why, The Fear, and the Exploration of the Curious Curios Presumed Inside - Part IV

LINKS:   Part I     Part II     Part III                  

Before integration, there is the why, the fear, and the exploration. 

Why take Ayahuasca. The fear of the unknown and everything we're forced to confront during and after the Ayahuasca event. The exploration of the many collectables inside of us - those curious curios kept unconsciously guarded for deeply-buried reasons. 

Soul Lesions
Some of these unconscious curios are organic parasites, like invasive soul-tissue lesions growing into performance art masterpieces of emotional dependency. Others are mechanical, clockwork monstrosities that dictate auto-execution of habits and thought-patterns that co-opt our spontaneity and demand hypnotic repetition. But the ultimate state of grace, that final aspect of arrival, of personal accomplishment all of us are after with Ayahuasca is some transformative "integration" on the other side of meeting the Mother Plant Spirit.

Integration is what it's all about - isn't it? We need to pull the experience of Ayahuasca together with any messages gleaned from on high - I mean really high. What use is a life-changing experience if it doesn't merge into the ubermatrix of people, places, responsibilities and aspirations we call our life? Hopefully, the merging process makes things better. But what if it doesn't? But why be negative? Why go there? Maybe because a negative outcome is a possibility. Yeah, and perhaps the one possibility that's more likely to come about is the one we give energy to. So shut up with that negative self-talk for the moment and let's see where being positive takes us.

Merriam-Webster defines INTEGRATION as: "coordination of mental processes into a normal effective personality or with the environment." For Dictionary.com it means: "the organization of the constituent elements of the personality into a coordinated, harmonious whole." Switch over to The Free Dictionary.com and find: "the organization of the psychological or social traits and tendencies of a personality into a harmonious whole." And Vocabulary.com manages to eek out a few words: "the act of combining into an integral whole." (underlines added)

Self-operating ego

In most definitions of integration, there's a whole lot of "whole" going on, either explicit or implicit. And being whole is what everyone thinks they want. Who wouldn't want to be "whole." To be anything less is - well, not wholly what it's about. How do you feel today? The answer we want is 100% - at least. 110% is even better. It's got to be somehow quantified. If we're not that complete, then we must be missing out on something. Right? And no one wants to miss out. To miss out on life is the ultimate state of being short-changed. We want the "whole" thing. We want wholeness so much we travel to exotic lands, taste horrible stuff, probably throw-up on ourselves and who knows what else just for the chance to get it. We know personal harmony only comes from the whole thing. But having the whole thing is not enough. It needs to be put together in a neat package, properly positioned to take advantage of the life we have. Once we are a neat package, we can rightfully claim the state of being integrated. It's so obvious there's no room to debate it.



That's good. At least that sounds good. But let the concept take shape in detail. Can we still say we're on the right path with that approach? We believe we need to be whole to max out a life that zips by all too fast. And yet, as with everything, each person defines the state of being "whole" differently. For many, being whole is having the full range of rock'em-sock'em life experiences that can be equated to having lived well. The more variety and depth of experiences we cram into our time here, the more fulfilled and deeper in meaning our lives become. We want nothing left undone on our bucket list. Taking Ayahuasca was checked off the list so I must be getting more "whole." "The one who dies having played with the most toys wins!"

But doesn't that fly in the face of so much Eastern philosophy that the "one's on the path" so adoringly embrace? I thought knowing oneself is the ultimate state of being "whole." And Buddha could simply sit under a tree and do that. He didn't need to have his passport stamped in every port of call and do the "150 things everyone MUST do before they die!" in order to be enlightened. I thought getting wrapped up in all of that mundane stuff was succumbing to Maya. Didn't someone say that greed, desire, and illusion - the three bogeypersons of nirvana - are to be avoided? A bucket list sure sounds like the perfect combination of all three.

Stitches
So what is wholeness? What is real integration? More importantly, what is the true intent behind our quest for it? Why do we want this? What do we truly hope to gain? What if the answer to our state of wholeness flies in the face of everything we told ourselves previously was the measure of success in life? What then? What if you are a top Silicon Valley venture capitalist and you fly a Peruvian shaman up to your Atherton, California mansion for a private Ayahuasca ceremony. You hope to leverage the astral plane magic to foretell which stocks to invest in next year. You hold the intention during the ceremony to become the white-magic guru of stock forecasting and fabulously wealthy in measures that make your current affluence pale in comparison. Will you then passionately embrace a "wholeness" message given by Mother Ayahuasca that entails selling off all your assets and using the money to establish orphanages and free medical clinics in the poorest sections of South America? That may sound ridiculous to this venture capitalist sitting on his $1500 yoga mat. But sounding ridiculous doesn't mean it wouldn't ultimately make him or her "whole" if such a path were followed.

The nature of the Ayahuasca experience deals with this confusion if one will let go of enough assumptions and entrained judgments and emotional responses. It's fortunate that the Ayahuasca journey is the penultimate personal thing. Having found oneself in the state of being where Mother Ayahuasca resides, one realizes this is a place where the personal doesn't stay hidden. It's not possible. And this is a good thing. None of one's curious curios stay on the unconscious shelf. In fact, one of the messages Socrates got during his first Ayahuasca experience was, "The unexamined life is not worth living" (I read this on the internet so it may not be right - Socrates might have been taking Iboga instead, but you get the idea - at least the quote is definitely attributed to him).

Before taking Ayahuasca, I had a well-crafted intention. I had thought about it quite a bit. Within the answer to that intention I believed the answers to my "wholeness" could be found. In brief, the intention was: "I've spent the bulk of my life being very good at something that isn't me. With the remaining time I have, I'd like guidance on what I should be doing. I want it revealed to me the best way to be the real me and in doing so, contribute and make life meaningful. Also, if Mother Ayahuasca had the time, I'm also interested in knowing just what this place is and why we're here." (See Part I for details).

Hand x-ray
The only problem was - nothing about the actual experience I had seemed in the slightest regard to address or even consider my intention. If anything, the actual journey, if one could even call it that, was nothing but an eight-hour horror show that played out around me with myself as embattled participant (See Part II for details). What possible "wholeness" could manifest out of such torment and fear? How could I ever be content and trust my "messages" if the very process of receiving them had been shown to be an inverted corruption of everything good I had been led to believe about the ceremonies?



Some redemption came late in the second ceremony in which Ayahuasca and San Pedro were mixed together. But in spite of exalted messages ("Stop the drama! Look for the beauty! Go with the flow of life! There is no good or evil!") and all the uplifting transformations of nature becoming conscious and personally involved around me, the dark central dilemmas established in the first ceremony were not dispelled, only placated (See Part III for details).



With so much unresolved, with so many unanswered - indeed unanswerable - questions, how could I ever hope to achieve any "integration" of the experience back into my life? Reviewing my original intention, as far as I was concerned, I had not gotten a satisfactory answer:
  • Question: "I've spent the bulk of my life being very good at something that isn't me. With the remaining time I have, I'd like guidance on what I should be doing. I want it revealed to me the best way to be the real me and in doing so, contribute and make life meaningful."
  • Answer: "Stop the drama! Look for the beauty! Go with the flow of life! There is no good or evil!"
No doubt many will look at that Q&A and see some semblance of connection. What did you expect, I'll be told - a specific direction like "go to this corner, talk to this guy, start this business, walk this path until you see two trees on a hill"? Maybe the best answer is simply a method of rearranging one's attitudes and subconscious constraints and in doing so, freeing oneself from the personal stuff that's been holding things back from being found naturally, in their own time, by one's own passionate efforts. The "what" of what I should be doing will never be answered by a ceremony -- that is up to me. Only the how is addressed. By dealing with stuff, the "how" is enabled. As the old saying goes: the door is opened but we must walk through it for ourselves. 

All right. Fine. If enough complex analysis is put on the task, maybe I can use a lot of other people's advice about my experience to construct some kind of sense out of it. But should I really have to work that hard to slip into my harmonious state of wholeness and integration? It sounds an awful lot like trying to push and pull and squeeze my feet into wrong-size shoes. Regardless how great they look with my other clothes - how complete and whole they make my overall look - the fact is, they just don't fit.

Plus, when I really look at the answer I got, it has problems. The most glaring of which is this thing about no good or evil existing. As far as I know, it wasn't the "good" side giving me that message. The dark side is known to be ultimate tricksters, so how do I know? But even if the "good" side, even if Mother Ayahuasca herself gave me that message - it doesn't jive with what I experienced and the fact that shamans go through a lot to "protect" the ceremony space. Are they doing all of that for show only? If not, then they must believe there's something really out there we need to be protected from. Now, have the shamans been fooled? Haven't they gotten the same message from the "good" side as I did? "There is no good - there is no evil."

Add to this the fact that not once during either ceremony was there a time when the dark entities were absent. Even during the peak of the positive messages being given, they were present. They retreated to a distance near the treeline and behind the sweat lodge, they swirled about but they were never gone. And not having them gone leaves me with the same dilemmas that came out of the first ceremony. What exactly was going on at that ceremony? Whatever it was, it entailed so much more than what was advertised. And it seemed nothing to do with giving me transformative messages. It was all about a dark agenda in another dimension that had little to do with me. If anything, I was the interloper. I was treated by the entities like I didn't belong there. They didn't like the fact that I was witness to what they were doing. And nothing about my exultant messages during the second ceremony does anything to dispel that.

I'm left with so much unresolved. The solutions to the dilemmas I grapple with are beyond this place and time. And there seems to be some satisfaction out there somewhere in the dark in the fact that I've been presented with something that is impossible for me to put to rest. If anything, that only reinforces my hunch that the darkness is real. It reads you before giving you the one thing it knows will pull you down. They too exist in the space where nothing personal can be hidden - and they leverage it to the hilt. In the face of all this, I don't see how integration, wholeness, or harmony could ever result for me from my Ayahuasca experience.

And that's why it's the oddest thing, the strangest thing of all -- the very fact that so many secondary life changes have happened for me since those ceremonies. None of these changes are directly related to my experience and yet they have manifested in my life anyway - all in the last year. 

corporate office
  • I've left the corporate world after decades of a rote existence.
  • I've moved 4,300 miles to another country with a different culture and language to start the rest of my life.
  • I feel more engaged in daily activities.
  • I don't sweat the small stuff as much.
  • If I get an idea to do something, I do it (rather than analyzing and thinking about it, and then dropping the idea).
  • I find joy in little things that wouldn't have been on my radar before.
  • I have an emotional clarity about engaging in the good parts of life and the planet.
  • I seek out interactions with people in ways I never would have done before.
  • I no longer want to eat certain foods that before had been my favorites - dairy, eggs, bread - perhaps it was the contaminated versions that I was now rejecting.
  • Alcoholic drinks have lost their appeal.
  • I crave fruits and vegetables in a huge way.
  • I dropped 40 pounds in 4 months, something that I'd tried and failed at for 10-20 years. Ironically, it's the weight that I was at in my youth, when I'd had a much more positive outlook on life.
  • My wife tells me I am happy, truly happy, with a new light in my eyes and spring in my step (her words, not mine).
In short, so much has changed in my life. It's almost as if Mother Ayahuasca managed to get through to me in spite of my experience instead of on account of it. Or maybe it was something else - something, in her wisdom, she tailor-made for me.

dark energies


At one point in my extended meditation on the day following the first, harrowing experience, the thought came to me, as if on a gentle breeze -- "If we had given you the answers you needed directly, you only would have argued with us. So we had to take you there. It was the only way. You couldn't be told. You had to go through the worst to get the best insight." Who knows where that came from. Maybe it was my own mind's attempt to rationalize an excuse why the ceremony had done what was good for me, even if it meant "taking my medicine."



As far as the dilemmas, the fear, the unresolved questions, the inverted trickster elements ever present in every aspect of what I went through - I don't think I'll ever get the answers to all of it. And I suspect the dark entities like it that way. They want me hopeless about "wholeness" and ever achieving a final "integration." But strangely enough, as the days go by, I'm all right with that.



There's one thing the dark entities don't have on their side. It's the knowing spirit of Mother Ayahuasca in the plant medicine brew. If she is truly there, if she is not just a ruse of trickster darknesses inverting everything good so they can feed off our fear and despair, or even if she's only something the exotic brew allowed me to conjure up for myself as a placebo projection -- if there's the slightest chance of any of that, then she has indeed given me an enormous hint, an awesome cheat code to escape the downspiral of not knowing:


"STOP THE DRAMA!"

Simply let it go, look for the beauty, be content to say what-the-fuck and just go with the flow of life. Realize down to your cellular DNA -- this is not our time or place to have all the answers. Don't even go there. It's a wall you don't need to bang your head against.

If you must judge the experience of taking Ayahuasca, if you must know if you are achieving the ultimate state of grace, that final aspect of arrival, of personal accomplishment all of us are after -- do so by degrees, in slight ways, over time, by noticing how you are changing. That is the true measure of integration.

  • Notice the little thing you've added to your life that contains possibilities of growing in wondrous ways.
  • Notice a draining craving that suddenly switched off.
  • Notice the unconscious little habit that has weakened its grip on you.
  • Notice the subtle new outlooks you have on ordinary situations.
  • Notice how in little ways the mundane has become magical.
  • Notice how your interactions with people have slipped into a higher gear of intent and caring.
  • Notice the expanded perspective shift when hearing about world events.
  • Notice a new affinity with nature.
  • Whatever it is for you, whatever it may be, notice the newly found quiet in your mind that allows you to notice your new things.
  • Notice how now there are flashes of insight.
  • Notice the spaces between moments when suddenly you are able to listen to your true self in surprising ways.
Shaman at Pumapungo Museum

Integration doesn't mean you'll understand the Ayahuasca experience.
Wholeness never means all the dilemmas and questions get resolved.
Personal harmony only means you will benefit from your experience in ways you can't imagine.
At least until they've become new-found joys in your life. Then your imagination will soar.
That is the insight Mother Ayahuasca wanted so much to share with me.
And in the sharing, she only asks that I take it in, really listen,
and then share the message with others.


Face to face on the beach


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