Friday, October 22, 2021

How Spirituality, Religion & Psychedelics Are (and Aren’t) the Same – “Perennial” Truths We Can All Use

     Have you ever heard of Aldous Huxley? He’s the 20th Century author and philosopher best known for his prescient 1932 book, Brave New World, where he warned us about how future technology (and pharmaceuticals) could destroy the shape of our society and our lives. He’s also known for his ground-breaking account of the effects of psychedelic substances, 1954’s The Doors of Perception, which not only inspired the naming of the iconic L.A. rock band, but also open the doors to Flower Power, Sgt. Pepper, and “tune in, turn on, drop out,” the Sixties call to discovering a new, naturally ethical way to live.

Huxley was definitely tuned into something big earlier on his path in 1945 when his book The Perennial Philosophy was first published by Harper & Brothers. Intermingled with his observations about the nature of human being and our spiritual relationship to Life and the Universe, are excerpts and quotations from great spiritual texts and teachers, all of which define a set of principles that are consistent to every great world religion, and describe a greater “non-ordinary” reality that supports and enfolds all of humankind’s material knowledge and experience.

Pretty deep stuff, right? But when we break it down, as Huxley did, it provides us with four easy, direct concepts that answer those eternal mysteries: What’s going on here? And, What is the purpose of Life? Naturally, knowing those answers can give us much more practical ways to approach our personal day-to-day, here and now. Here they are, as simply as I can put them:

  • The entire material world, witnessed through our human perception and the nature of our Consciousness, arises from a “Divine Field-of-Being” – a unified, infinite ground of potential and manifestation – in which all realities exist. Different religions may call this “the Kingdom,” “the Tao,” “emptiness,” “Brahman;” or scientists might name it “the Quantum Field.”
  • Human beings cannot really know “The Divine” by presumption or by scientific theorizing, but only through a direct form of inner experience. Observation (particularly of Nature) may lead to some realization of it, but generally it requires the deconstruction of the material idea of our “self” – a psychic shift that often comes from a life-changing incident…because…
  • Human beings comprise a duality, consisting of our outward, ever-changing, ever-demanding material self and ego-mind; and our authentic inner self, or “divine spark, or well-spring” that is always connected by its true, eternal nature to that Divine Consciousness, and to all of Life.
  • Ultimately, we’re all here to identify with that eternal self – to recognize the transcendent part of ourselves that is alive, and connected to all of Life, in that greater spiritual reality. When we connect with the Divine, underlying Field-of-Being, everything that comes and goes – good or bad – is fine as it is, because we identify with that safe, grounding source instead. Creating that connection is the essential purpose of our human life on Earth – to realize that we all One. 

Organized religions end up having a hard time bringing these concepts to bear because their institutional attachments and dogma tend to obstruct or define the pure personal experience (the idea that anyone can experience “Christhood,” or become a Buddha themselves). Many saints of organized religion were actually outsiders of a sort.

Psychedelics, or what indigenous people may revere as “sacred plant teachers” are effective, but do require ingesting some mind-altering substance to force entry into a non-ordinary state-of-being.

What is left as the authentic ground of of these fundamental, eternal realizations is what we call Spirituality – that exclusive, available, ’anecdotal’  form of personal inner experience which contains both religion and the teachings of sacred plants. It’s very personal – all it requires is your undivided presence. It experientially defines, and is intellectually defined by Huxley’s remarkable Perennial Philosophy. I think of it as “Explicit Spirituality,” and it’s a great way to inform and direct your life.

It is interesting (though not necessary) that Huxley’s Perennial explorations led him to open those psychedelic “doors” later on, because they do bring about some overlapping realizations (according to most authentic experiencers of mescaline, psilocybin, ayahuasca, etc.) – realizations that most religions struggle to impart:

  • The unity and connectedness of shared, fundamental Consciousness.
  • An unshakeable understanding of the sacred nature of all of Life.
  • The awareness of a real, functioning greater reality; most often experienced as Love.
  • A realization of the eternal, timeless nature of the moment – a sense of presence.
  • A fundamental positivity and joyfulness (made possible by living principles, like Kindness, Honesty, Humility, Forgiveness, and Service).

If we literally take this trail-blazers simple schematic to heart, we can spiritually find ourselves where we’ve always belonged, heading in the direction we were always meant to go.

"Our present world is conditioned by our present mode of consciousness; only when that consciousness passes from its present dualistic mode...will the new creation appear…of which our world is a mirror."

Bede Griffiths

Read about concepts like these and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it at your local bookstore!


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