Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Highest Mental State

Is there a preferred state of mind, an optimal form of consciousness, a way to open  the creative flow of our lives?  It can be a wild beast, that mind of ours.  Are there states of mind that can lift us out of our routine everyday selves?   A particular state of mind we should think about?


I think there is, and it’s a state we’re all acquainted with, at least to some degree.  The common word for it is ecstasy.


We can all in one way or another relate to this word.  The usage ranges from “Mom, I’m ecstatic about that gorgeous red blouse you bought me,” to the mystical ecstasy of Hildegard Von Bingen, expressed by her transcendent music.


Ecstasy is the most interesting state of mind to explore because it seems to be the most creative—even to the point of enabling us to defy the familiar habits of nature.   


To be clear about the root meaning of the word ecstasy. Ek-stasis is the Greek, and means standing or being outside yourself.  Definitely, an altered state of consciousness.  In ecstasy, we are lifted outside our normal personality. I once dreamt I was flying in a perfect blue sky on my silver flute—truly ecstatic!  And you? We all, if lucky, can boast of the rare taste of the truly ecstastic.  Love and sex are obvious wellsprings of possible ecstasy.  But we’ll not get into that here.


It turns out that there are many ways,  accidental as well as deliberate, to induce ecstasy. A lady friend was driving me across town once when the car hit an embankment, lost traction and began slowly to spin around into the next lane with oncoming traffic.  I saw immediately that I might shortly be dead but then strangely lapsed into a state of blissful admiration of everything around me; I was outside myself and feeling calm and serene. By sheer luck we made it unscathed to the other side of the road, escaping a crash.


One of the more famous accidental routes to ecstasy is the well-investigated near-death experience.   When this happens, you are definitely outside your normal human self.  Typically, you may encounter deceased loved ones, see your whole life flash before you, encounter a being of light and love, hear unearthly music, feel what  you never felt before, and emerge from it all, an evolved human being, often with paranormal powers you  never had before.


We prefer not to have such terrifying accidents to experience ecstasy and its wonders.  We can, however, turn to more gradual, deliberate methods of exploring the ecstatic zone. For example, like shamans, mediums, poets, prophets, and mystics, we might fast, meditate, ingest psychoactive substances, sublimate our sexual energies, and so on.  All directed to trigger the state of mind we’re discussing. 


In fact, there is a specific drug, MDMA called Ecstasy or Molly. My experiments with MDMA, conducted with my wife, taught me first hand about the ecstatic dimension and what it could reveal.


It would be useful to have a practice, an art form, a life-style that primes us for ecstasy. It could be anything.  Any practice that tends to free us from our mechanical mental habits.   Yogis of India have the word, sadhana—the practice used to tune into the powers of our latent higher self. “What have you done to surpass yourself?” was the question that Nietzsche put into the mouth of Zarathustra.


A great outlet for the ecstatic quest, for finding a healing sadhana, are the arts.  The arts are about transcending our habitual mindsets, rearranging our perception of reality in ways that enlarge our humanity. The arts operate in service to the free spirit of imagination.  As such they can take us out of ourselves, each art form in its own way.  It can be any form you resonate with.  


The ecstatic dimension of consciousness can lead to powerful experiences.   A vast range of reports reveal all manner of strange phenomena.  One thinks of  near-death experiences, how  lives are  transformed. There are cases of instantaneous healings resulting from ecstatic prayer.  Found in all spiritual traditions, folks are blown out of their normal personalities—mediums, shamans, saints, yogis. In the well-documented miracles of Hindu and Catholic saints, ecstasy is always central, the key to extraordinary events. There are more interesting ways of being in the world than we normally suppose.   Ecstasy is a doorway into the largely unknown  land of the supernormal.  


To explore all this further, the facts behind the new paradigm of consciousness,  see my book, Smile of the Universe: Miracles in an Age of Disbelief. (Anomalist Books or Amazon.) Sharing extraordinary information is the way to transformation. 

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