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Might the Gods be Alkaloids
Alex Polari de Alverga

III. Frontiers Between the Psychic and the Spiritual

The scene in which the search for a mystic union unfolds is that of the conscience, which is a form of the truth. The conscience could also be defined as a level of interior reality, because through it we recognize our own actions and emotions. In another sense, the conscience is the internal witness that unites the existence, the knowledge, and the inherent grace of the Being (Satchitananda).

The four basic levels of consciousness are: vigil state, dreaming sleep, dreamless sleep, and waking. We will examine the fourth state, waking, also called turya, which is the original source for higher levels of consciousness and mystical experience. These are the various terms for these mystical states: cosmic consciousness, visionary consciousness, shamanic consciousness, transpersonal consciousness, enlightenment, self-transcendence, objective consciousness. We could also use a mystical terminology: ecstasy and Christian grace, the Satori of Zen, the samadi of Jana Yoga, the fana of the Sufis, and the "miração" of the Santo Daime tradition, which we will describe later on.

In another sense, consciousness represents a type of mental sphere, in which one perceives different dimensions, worlds, and levels of reality. Its events are of another kind than those of the physical world, but are no less authentic. According to the definition of Dasklos, the great esoteric Christian mystic, the consciousness or the sacred mind is capable of perceiving not only the 3-dimensional material world but also the four dimensions of the psychic world, which is also the world of emotion, and the noetic sphere (the realm of thoughts that is closely related to the psyche). Beyond this level, there are states of consciousness that can only be imagined because they transcend the world of separation, and exist within a realm where the spirit and pure spirituality reign. We can therefore say that the psychic-noetic sphere of consciousness is an intermediary zone, a border post, which finely marks the boundaries between many categories and events of psychic order of spiritual experiences and realizations. Which events can be defined as a genuine mystical experience. If one compares the descriptions of Ezekiel, and Daniel, Plotinus, St. Paul, Runi, Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, Kabir, Ramakrishna, recent accounts from research done with LSD and mescal, and first-hand descriptions of induced states of shamanic consciousness, one finds remarkable coincidences between the states of consciousness attained. This allows us to draw a picture of the main characteristics of mystical phenomena. They are as follows:

  • ineffability, the inability to describe in words the beauties and excellence attained through profound visions and emotions
  • the experience of living a decisive moment of truth, as never before, characterized by the realization of one’s potential intuition
  • a feeling of being unique and distinct in the interior of the cosmos
  • a subjective experience of fusion between the self and the universe
  • transcendence of time and space, a feeling of the holiness present in the eternal "now"
  • a feeling of profound positiveness regarding life
  • the acknowledgment of the sanctity and divine character of the experience
  • an increase of one’s power of concentration and cognition
  • a feeling of comfort and moral motivation to fulfill the instructions which one receives in this state
  • revealing and valuable insights for the resolution of inner conflicts
  • reverence and humility before the unknown, serenity regarding the acceptance of death, and the comprehension of this acceptance as a transition to a non-material life of pure consciousness
  • predisposition for altruism and devotion
  • the ability to comprehend the components of language in pictorial images

All of these characteristics are related to one another in higher or lower levels of altered states of consciousness and are all components of mystical revelations. This holds true whether this altered state is natural, spontaneous, or induced by means of drums, mantras or entheogens. Depending upon the intensity of these experiences, they can reach a climatic peak, which is the fusion of the self with the "Absolute", a "unio mistica". It would be very naive to interpret such phenomena which have so many relevant psychological, ethical, and social repercussions merely as infantile regressions or as a positive degeneration of psychosis.

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