Doing The Work

All the small muscles in my body seem to relax as if for the first time ever, a warm, soft feeling of peace permeates my entire being.  I can see, really visually see, myself as in a high definition movie, I am so beautiful.  Light pours from my eyes and heart and I am surrounded by flowering vines and animals.  I sit in the lotus position with impeccable posture growing a new perfect life in my womb, my husband sits beside me no less perfect and beautifully decorated with the accessories of health and life.  We see our lives stretched out in front and behind us, a palpable feeling of forgiveness for our past choices that might have caused harm and a crystal clear understanding that moving forward we have the indisputable ability to make all the “right” choices to live a full and present life in harmonious co-creation with the universe.  We will care with tenderness and strength to our bodies, to our children, to the Earth and those around us.  It will not be hard or complicated to do and it will be full of grace and light and mistakes as well but instead of wailing and screaming against those mistakes in a fugue of self pity we will graciously accept them and honor what we learn.  It will be a perfect life and we will be perfect in it.  We will heal ourselves as well as our planet and I can see exactly how, there is no ambivalence, the answer is right there in my hands.

Pretty nice vision eh?  I’ve actually had quite a few like this with the help of visionary plant medicines.  They are very soothing and full of good information about how I should change my life in order to live the beautiful vision.

And then I go home from the ceremony, and there’s dirty dishes in the sink and I’m tired cus I’ve been up all night and I have half a dozen abusive e-mails from my ex husband and the car needs to go to the shop and I’m not sure if I can get rent paid on time.  But I still feel so good from the vision so I set to work on the chores, the daily living that is the true ceremony.  Things probably go pretty well for awhile and I lean on the good feeling from my vision to keep me going through the rough bits.    I manage for awhile and make some solid changes and progress towards that goal but then I get tired because I’m human.  I start to forget what my lessons were, what I was told to change, whether it was to smoke less cigarettes or call my dad more often or eat a few more vegetables. So I smoke to many smokes cus I have a long day and am to tired to not, I don’t call my dad cus there’s to much of a time difference and I eat meat and sour cream dumplings for breakfast and lunch because they’re right next door to where I work all day and I wanted to sleep in instead of packing myself a lunch or eating breakfast.

My vision of perfection gets faded and I get grumpier and more tired and my husband and I get in a nasty fight and say and do hurtful things.  Things get pretty messy and I start to feel pretty bad and like my vision was more of a delusion.

This is not a one time sort of event, this series of happenings has occurred many times in my life and will probably continue to.

One of the things that happens with the psychedelic medicines is that they have a tendency to show us something that is kind of an ideal or pinnacle of how we might live. It doesn’t mean that when we come down and head home from the retreat center that we are magically changed and can suddenly live that vision.  We still have to do the work, we are still wounded humans with triggers and the deeply ingrained programs of a sadistic patriarchal society.

The beautiful visions and deep self learning that can come with the psychedelic experience are not the work of actual change, they may be the catalyst and they may give us the strength and resolve to make the changes we need to but we must remember that the real work comes between the ceremonies.

It is the practice of becoming mindful of all the little ways in which we harm ourselves and learning to get as much joy and pleasure from washing the dishes as we do a long walk in the woods, sure a different kind of pleasure but the point is that the things we must do to live are sacred and as wonderful as the peak experiences of life might be, the majority of it is really the day to day cooking and cleaning.  It cannot be said enough that these things make up the majority of our time in 3D reality so learning to find peace in the moment to moment is where we will become free of suffering.

The thing that most people won’t tell you about “the Path” that they are advertising is that you don’t pick up a practice, do it for a few years and then find peace and enlightenment.  If the practice is really worth it’s salt the chances are high that you will have moments of incredible clarity and peace (or at least a felt sense that you are doing the right thing) followed by tremendous suffering and hardship.  This is ok, it’s just the shit getting worked out.  The hotter the fire the faster the purification, the flames never stop but at some point the burning does.

You will make mistakes,  probably a lot of them, your first mistake is likely thinking that you won’t make very many.  You’ll also make the same mistakes more than a few times.  The psychedelic path will point out, with surgical precision, what your mistakes are.  The next mistake is to take that information and feel shame and regret.  This is not the point of being shown your flaws.  Yes acknowledge them, yes pay attention and honor them and try to do better next time but there will always be a next time.  Guilt and shame are interesting emotions, shame comes up when we have done something against our own personal moral compass.  Guilt comes up when we have done something against societies or our groups moral compass but not necessarily against our own.  Both can be useful in that way, for teasing out what our beliefs are or the beliefs of the groups we think we belong to (or don’t even realize we belong to).

Keep walking. You don’t fall off the the path and then get back on it, it’s the constant oscillations of falling and getting up that are the “path”.


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