Dude, Where’s My Breakthrough?
The part of you that is attached to a breakthough is keeping you from having a breakthough.
The universe does not owe any of us a breakthrough.
It’s hard for us to hear that. We think we may have found this magic bullet that confers spiritual experiences and rewires our brain for happiness all at the same time. If only we could gain access to it, by opening our wallets, by traveling far, then undoubtedly we’ll be taken care of.
The Johns Hopkins studies report that 67% of people in their psilocybin studies had one of the most profound spiritual experiences of their lives. That’s two out of three. Which is awesome if we’re not person three. But we might be. We might have done everything right, in the rational sense. You went to the right place, paid the right person, and read the right books. We filled out the right intake form with its probing, emotionally evocative questions. Even after doing all these things, we might just have an experience that might best be described as ‘meh’. Some colors, some paranoia, a sense of frustration and disappointment that it didn’t go a different way. A nagging sense of, ‘what did I do wrong?’ or worse, ‘what’s wrong with me?‘.
Being self-reliant is counterproductive when the experience you seek is a departure from the self.
Often, we seekers are smart and successful. We solve problems and are exceedingly competent. We can rely on ourselves to make good decisions and take care of things. But in a realm that prioritizes surrender, a long history of being able to figure things out and make things happen can actually be detrimental. If we’ve learned to rely on ourselves and our rational mind to solve every problem, we’re going to run into issues, because you can’t use the self to get out of the self.
You can’t use the self to get out of the self.
Pray for grace.
Sometimes I say this to people and they cringe. I say it partially to reveal cognitive dissonance, but mostly because it’s some of the best advice I have. We want a deep, meaningful, transformative spiritual experience, but we want it in a way that fits neatly in a rational materialist worldview. We might want to consider the possibility that it just doesn’t work like this.
The spiritual experience is out of our hands. It’s definitely outside the grip of the mind.
The needle has moved such that we are increasingly willing to meditate. Even so, meditation has been sold to us as something secular. There is evidence that it works. It’s science. It doesn’t require belief.
Prayer is a little different. It requires a some humility, a little faith. An understanding that there is something bigger than our ordinary selves. Maybe it’s universal consciousness, or pure presence, or spirit, or god, or ‘your true self’, or whatever. But it’s not ‘us’ (‘I’) as we conceive of ourselves in this moment. Because if that ‘I’ was really in charge, we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place.
It doesn’t even have to be prayer, exactly. Could be chanting…
Anything to increase the capacity to get out one’s own head.
Anything to increase the capacity to get out of one’s way.
Spiritual practice is still the best way to have a spiritual experience.
Not even prayer and meditation are guarantees.
I’d love to tell you that if you pray and meditate and chant and go to yoga, then you will absolutely have a breakthrough experience with psychedelics. But that goes against everything that I said above. Grace can’t be earned, by definition. A spiritual experience is an accident, at best. But practice makes us accident prone.
Like my dad says, ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get.’
Try it out. See what happens.
Even if your psychedelic experiences remain mediocre (which is unlikely), you still get the benefits of practice. You’ll still be calmer, happier, more disciplined, and contented. You’ll be happy you invested in yourself. It takes more work than the magic bullet you’re hoping is going to blast your suffering out of the back of your head, but ultimately it’s worth it.
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Being able to have someone who understands help you make sense and meaning is very useful when you’d like to go over this process with me, you are welcome to scheudle an appointment. I’m here for you.
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