“As soon as high consciousness is reached, the enjoyment of existence is entwined with pain, frustration, loss, tragedy. Amid the passing of so much beauty, so much heroism, so much daring, Peace is then the intuition of permanence. It keeps vivid the sensitiveness to the tragedy; and it sees the fineness beyond the faded level of surrounding fact. Each tragedy is the disclosure of an ideal: What might have been, and was not; What can be. The tragedy was not in vain.” Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas
A favorite poem of ours, Ithaka – the journey:
Ithaka, by Constantine Cavafy
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find the things like that on your way
as long as you keep thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony.
sensual perfume of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Dreamwork can be a great complement of breathwork, and vice versa. This book by dream cartographers Tom Verner and Stephen Larsen is a wonderful resource, based on decades of their work with dream groups. See especially the discussion of dream contents in terms of Grof’s perinatal matrices, page 41:
Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof posits that our birth impacts us in ways that are very real, even though they may not be all that tangible to us. To best articulate these impacts he devised a model of them and named them the Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPM). Not only dreams, but almost every subsequent experience in waking life activate the dynamics of one of these underlying matrices.
Roland Leonard Gibson, http://www.itcprague2017.org/speakers/roland-leonard-gibson
The Origins and Future of Holistic Cosmology
Western philosophy has origins in the spiritual technologies of ancient Greek mystery religions. The ecstatic, psychedelic ritual of the Eleusinian Mysteries promoted an experience of death and rebirth that inspired dramatic insight into the nature of things by opening new eyes upon the world.
Besides bringing renewed perspective to topics such as the mind-body problem, the nature of experience, and of space and time, ecstatic experience can keep us from prematurely closing accounts with reality, per William James’s warning, on many other topics of philosophical and metaphysical investigation.
Alfred North Whitehead is the singular modern philosopher whose cosmology readily affords a framework for psychedelic exploration of cosmology. Similarly to Stanislav Grof, he says that the present moment of the soul “holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.”
Whitehead suggests a new cosmology that conceives the fundamental realities of the universe not as bits of inert matter, but as occasions of experience such as spiritual technologies illuminate. His new cosmology holds promise for solving the paradoxes of modern science by imbuing deliverances from ancient mysteries.
When preparing for a workshop, I find it helpful to refer to the Grof’s book “Holotropic Breathwork,” always good to go back to the source after all these years! Highly recommended for anyone interesting in hosting breathwork events, or anyone who just wants to learn more about this amazing technology of the sacred. This book combines Grof’s theory of the cartography of the psyche with case studies, practical matters — how to do breathwork — and has some very important information about bodywork, both in the body of the text and in the Appendix on Special Situations.
Extraordinary experiences can facilitate radical exploration of metaphysical topics such as the nature of mind, the self, epistemology of perception, consciousness, the status of ideas as potentials and archetypes, the origins of value, and the fundamentals of cosmology. Filmed at Breaking Convention 2017 – 4th International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness University of Greenwich London, June 30th-July 2nd 2017
At the end of June Lenny presented his paper in the philosophy and mysticism session at the Breaking Convention 2017 conference at Greenwich University : “Besides bringing a renewed perspective to topics such as the mind-body problem, the nature of experience, and of space and time, ecstatic experience can keep us from prematurely closing accounts with reality, per William James’s caution, on many other topics of philosophical and metaphysical investigation.”
Looking forward to our upcoming trip to Seattle, where Lenny’s presentation “Amplified Subject” will consider, from a Whiteheadian perspective, some of the metaphysical dimensions that are revealed during intense nonordinary states, including the death-rebirth experience, the relativity of lived time, the presence of the past, and the intrinsic value of each moment.
Keywords: Psychedelics; Mystical Experience; Stanislav Grof; LSD; Robin Carhart-Harris