I been slowly reading a book called Longitude by Dava Sobel. It’s about how the desire to sail the seas inspired innovation in clock making. Timekeeping is required to measure longitude, I’ve discovered. Latitude is easy. On the northern hemisphere, you can simply measure the angle between the horizon and Polaris, and you’ve got your latitude.
But longitude has no such star. To figure out your longitude, you need to know the difference in time between where you are and the Prime Meridian, which is currently in Greenwich, England. About every four minutes is a degree.
What does this have to do with psychedelic integration? Well, first of all, it’s nice to learn some simple physics every once in a while to balance out the metaphysics. Happy to learn a little more about the place I live.
But it got me thinking about navigating around the vast sea of consciousness. What is our latitude? our longitude? How do we chart a course? I’m guessing that if I asked a hundred psychonauts, I’d get a hundred answers, and If I wrote this next week, I might even have another answer. but I’ve been chewing on it for a few weeks, and this is what I’ve come up with.
Ethics are our latitude. Ethics are universal really, unchanging. We don’t hurt people, we don’t steal things. It’s uncomplicated. There is a reason why every decent spiritual practice and religion has ethical standards. Especially practices that produce changes in consciousness. The yoga sutras for example, have yama and niyama. One is expected to spend a great deal of time contemplating them in order to stabilize one’s consciousness and prepare it for meditation and samadhi. We want compassion, non-violence, humility to be in our default mode for when things get weird. This is what helps us take our ‘yoga off the mat’ as they say. And we all know that Robert Anton Wilson famously referred to our psychedelic work as ‘Chemical Yogas’.
Longitude is perhaps a little more personal. This is where our personal commitments and intentions line up. We may be in it for therapeutic reasons, or ceremonial, or for a deeper connection to our loved ones. Even for fun or curiosity. It’s really up to you, it’s just helpful when it’s consciously chosen.
What we have is the intersection between the personal and the universal. What the cosmos asks of us and what we ask of the cosmos.
Maybe next week, we’ll delve into how we can move skillfully through our open sea. We’ve actually been working to answer this question for years in our Sitting For Psychonauts class. It’s a month long intensive that offers powerful tools to prepare you for deep water. We have another cohort beginning in June.
If you have other ideas about how to chart this big globe of the mind, I’m happy to hear it.
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