Over 120 years since “The Father of American Psychology,” William James, wrote Varieties of Religious Experience, mysticism remains on the periphery, as psychology recovers from an imbalance toward pathology. Mainstream theory and therapies have done incredibly well at mapping the shadow. Much less attention is paid to the light, the potent force known as the superconscious.
There’s an understandable tentativeness when psychology enters so-called spiritual territory. The stumbling block with integrating the superconscious is its metaphysical associations. Mysticism, the idea that union with the divine is an experiential possibility, contradicts the dominant ideology of materialism.
How do you deal with problems? Life is full of them. Just one problem after the other. You could argue human creativity and survival centres around finding solutions to problems. Not as physically strong as other animals? Build tools. Chilly in your cave at night? Spark a fire.
The memory resurfaced. Days-gone-by illuminated my consciousness, beckoning me to leave the present and return to the past. “I miss that time,” I thought, as I remembered a lucid summer from two years ago, a time when I felt vibrantly alive.
I’m content with where I’m at, mentally, spiritually, and creatively, but the summer of 2018 had a different quality to it. I had a powerful spiritual awakening and a huge upgrade in my reality. I’d uncovered parts of myself I didn’t know existed, including levels of creativity never before experienced, and a vitality and aliveness which had me bouncing out of bed each day, eager to get to work on my business, to explore, to adventure.
An adventure it was; those summer months felt like learning how to live again, from a different place. My receptivity was wide open, I’d stumbled across a deeper reality, and I’d never felt more awake, more connected to myself, my spirituality, the universe surrounding me. I was seeing everything with fresh eyes, as if for the first time.
Such highs are common throughout the awakening process, but they aren’t ever-lasting. Since then I’ve continued to grow and develop, with similar moments of aliveness coming and going, with plenty of shadow work thrown in for good measure. Spiritual growth is circular, and although I feel the ways I’ve grown, there’s a certain quality about these months I can’t shake.
Spiritual growth is an unlearning process. Awakening into the true nature of reality requires constant unlearning of false beliefs and a re-discovery of the direct experience of the present moment. Conceptual reality is a house of mirrors, a myriad of illusion. Of all illusions, psychological time is the trickiest to detect.
Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years… The passage of time is seemingly objective and compatible with experience. Events appear to unfold sequentially, superimposed onto the clock. But the past is a memory. The future is imagination. Life is eternally present, an infinite succession of Nows.
As Mark Twain said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” So much of our attention and energy is spent on holding on to days-gone-by or worrying about things that may never materialise. How does life change, once liberated from these opposing forces?
I’m enchanted by exposed brick, arched ceilings and passionate discussions about the nondual nature of existence. The magical space I’m sitting in, this sweet July afternoon, is the cellar of Castello di Titignano, Orvieto. Its shade and air circulation offers respite from the intense Italian sun. I’m grateful. And cool.
Barrels of fermenting grapes from nearby vineyards are replaced with pop-up chairs, projector screens, speakers. A colourful poster for SAND Italy 2019 reminds me of how far I’ve come. 12:35pm. It’s my turn to present at the Science and Nonduality Conference:
Welcome to the Age of Re-Enchantment: Magic Transforming Mental Health and the World.
Here we goooooo! Months of visualising, mind-mapping and soul searching has come to this.