Transcendence: The Gift of Human Life
Transcendence is the act of rising above something to a superior state. When most people hear the word “transcendence” they usually think of experiences that involve going beyond the physical body. Experiences of transcending the dimension of time and space through meditation, dream states, and psychedelics, such as astral travel, lucid dreaming, time travel, and the list goes on.
I went through a stage in my life where I loved seeking any kind of experience that took me places that I couldn’t normally access within my normal waking consciousness. Transcending the mind and body to access the realm of spirit with practices, such as transcendental meditation, becoming conscious in dream states, and with the use of the sacred psychedelic plant medicine. These practices allowed me to shift my awareness beyond my physical body, mind, and senses so that I could see the different dimensions of reality.
Just as animals view the world differently, such as birds being able to sense more subtle changes in the earth’s electromagnetic field, allowing them to predict and flee from environmental disaster, when our consciousness shifts in form and connects with spirit, we are able to see reality from a different angle.
I had experiences going forwards and backward in time and astral traveled to different countries and planets. I once went to Saturn’s moon, Titan. From all of these experiences expanding my consciousness outside of my normal waking consciousness, I have come to understand that reality is in fact multidimensional and infinite. I have witnessed first hand that everything is created out of thought, thereby making everything possible. As John Lennon once said, “I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind”. Quantum physics also backs this, acknowledging that everything that can happen does happen.
For a good couple of years, I became quite fixated on having experiences where I could transcend the senses and the physical body. I practiced lucid dreaming regularly taking guayusa tea and I loved using psychedelics. Any opportunity to experience something out of the ordinary and I was there. Well, that was until I started experiencing what it felt like to capture these same experiences within the physical body in my normal waking consciousness.
The first time I truly understood how amazing it is to experience the gift of human perception was the first time I ever tried the psychedelic plant medicine, Mother Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca called the ‘mother’ because of her feminine presence of divine love, is the ‘the vine of the soul’. She is an ancient Amazonian plant medicine that has been used traditionally by Shamans, or medicine men, in a ceremony to induce altered states of consciousness to help communicate with other realms and for healing purposes.
Psychedelics, such as Ayahuasca, expand the consciousness beyond the physical body and mind, where you are able to experience what it feels like to come into contact with spirit. When I am talking about spirit, I am talking about the inner essence of the soul which is in absolutely everything. And to come in contact with spirit is to come in contact with the ever-changing and morphing energy which sustains all of life. I could attempt to explain more about how this feels, but it’s not something I can really put into words as it is a feeling that can only be known through direct experience.
Just as you can’t really describe the colour purple or the smell of a rose, you can’t describe the experience of coming into direct contact with the energy of spirit.
The psychedelic experience is entirely unique from one time another and from one person to the next, but most commonly involves people having highly visual experiences and spiritual revelations about the self and/or reality. I myself have had a myriad of experiences taking the medicine, from purging old emotional wounds to feeling the bliss and joy of being touched with the divine. I have time traveled, moved through parallel dimensions and have experienced my consciousness morph with those from other realms, from the spirit world to the animal realm.
I remember one particular experience where my consciousness merged with an ants and I felt tiny, helpless and terrified. I can honestly say that ever since that experience I have developed great compassion for all animals and have never squashed a bug since. Well, intentionally anyway.
Why Explore Other States of Consciousness?
In both psychedelic and deeply meditative states of consciousness, where you are able to connect with your own spirit, you gain access to parts of yourself that you normally wouldn’t be able to in waking consciousness. You can go deep within yourself to places and spaces you aren’t usually aware of, to find deep stressors and memories that are stored within you that are the cause for emotional, physical and mental suffering. When you go deeper into the fabric of your existence to the level of your energetic body, or spirit, you are not only able to witness these old wounds, but you are able to move past them so that when you come back into physical presence, your body and mind feel are less weighed down by these old emotions and memories.
It helps you to free yourself from emotional and mental behaviours and patterns which limit your ability to experience your spirit, or inner joy with freedom of expression.
The first time that I took Ayahuasca, she connected me with my own inner essence, or spirit and I became pure spirit form, morphing into all kinds of different colors, shapes, and geometry. At first, the experience was incredible- a bit like transcendental meditation, but on steroids. And as much as I enjoyed the experience, after about an hour I really started craving being able to feel with my physical body again.
I distinctly remember the moment I sank back into my body- it was one of the most blissful experiences I have ever had in my life. I couldn’t help but continuously touch my own body. It felt like I was reborn again, experiencing being in a body for the first time. I remember crying with such joy and gratitude- how could I normally be so ignorant of how amazing the experience of being alive is? It was a huge wake-up call for me.
I realised just how much I normally take for granted being busy and caught up in my head analysing life instead of simply dipping my feet in its joy.
I spent a couple of years going deep into myself with meditation, yoga, and psychedelics. I used these practices to shift my awareness into parts of myself, or what some call the ‘subconscious’ to heal the emotional wounds of my past. Accessing these deeper states of consciousness, I was able to go in and release the stresses in the body that were causing me discomfort in my mind and body during my waking state. And by releasing the discomforts within the mind and the body, I started noticing that I was able to remain more present in day-to-day life. By entering these altered states of consciousness and deep states of meditation on a regular basis, I was able to clear any parts of myself that were limiting my ability to reach my full potential to be my true, uninhibited self.
Eventually, I started to learn that as amazing as it felt to connect with spirit outside of the body, I could do this within the body. The more I learned to transcend the mind, such as with meditation and psychedelics, the more peace and stillness of the mind I experienced when I came out of these states into my waking consciousness.
The state of stillness, or meditation, that I was gaining access to, which is known in Hinduism as Turiya, or ‘pure consciousness’ was starting to become my normal state of consciousness. Instead of being consumed by discomfort within my mind and body, I was able to feel a profound sense of peace, or watchfulness.
I was starting to learn what it was to be one with my soul, or spirit, within the physical body. Not only was I able to stay more grounded and present in the moment, but I was also able to really feel more. Without the distractions in my mind, my senses started to become more heightened. My psychic senses, such as my ability to feel and hear telepathically, including being able to communicate with animals and plants, started growing developing stronger.
Since starting to feel more alive within my body, being able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel more sensitively, I have come to realise just how amazing the experience of being a human is.
A couple of years ago when I was living and studying in a Buddhist monastery, my teacher kept emphasizing how lucky we were to have the opportunity to experience life as a human, expressing that reincarnation into human form is very rare. I never truly understood this at the time. But now I get it. There is so much that can be experienced in the human body that cannot be experienced in other forms. There is so much potential and so much beauty that can be witnessed with the human body, mind, and senses.
We are pure spirit form before we enter the human body and again when we leave, so for now, I am happy to wait to have any more experiences outside of the body. I now know that what’s more important is that we enjoy every moment that we are alive in this amazing human body that we have been gifted.
After having all kinds of amazing experiences, I can now see that the ultimate form of transcendence is to be present and alive within my own body so that I can experience human life to its ultimate potential.
Paramhansa Yogananda: A Mahayogi Comes West
Millions actively practice yoga and meditation with the ultimate goal of achieving self-realization, but few are aware of one of the most influential people who brought these Eastern teachings to the West. Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi and guru who lived from 1893 to 1952, experienced his own rendition of the famed Hero’s Journey. Yogananda’s legacy lives on, and his seminal work, Autobiography of a Yogi, is still considered among the “100 Best Spiritual Books of the 20th Century,” continuing to grace the bookshelves of philosophers and the spiritually inquisitive.
Born to a devout, upper-class family in Gorakhpur, India, Yogananda’s spiritual fate was foretold in his infancy. His parents’ guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, blessed the child and told his mother, “Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.” The prophecy did not take long to begin its manifestation, and at an early age, Yogananda experienced the first signs of spiritual awakening.
When he was eleven years old, Yogananda’s mother was in Calcutta — he had a dream that she was dying. A telegram arrived soon after, confirming this tragedy. From this point onward, Yogananda’s spiritual life escalated, and he began an earnest search for the guru he had seen thousands of times in his dreams. When he was 17-years old, he finally found Swami Yuktweswar Giri, a revered teacher who met him with open arms, and declared that he had been waiting for Yogananda.
It was at their first meeting that Yuktweswar taught Yogananda the meaning of unconditional love. In his autobiography, Yogananda recalls his master’s words, “‘Ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. Divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. The flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.’” It was also during this first meeting that Yuktweswar told Yogananda that he was destined to teach Kriya Yoga in the United States and throughout the world.