This is the complete Chapter 8 from my recent book Chakras, Drugs and Evolution. This chapter is my reckoning with Aldous Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy, in which he suggests that all mystics were essentially experiencing the same even if they clothed it in different words. Really? All of them?
ALDOUS HUXLEY’S THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY
The remaining four chapters of this book will integrate the findings of the first seven chapters into a systematic and cohesive philosophy and nomenclature of mysticism, a map of transformative states. This map is a tool of navigation for the mystical terrain. A mystical state is a transformative state, a state in which new knowledge for our society is revealed. A mystical state is to reveal something hidden, something yet unknown so it can be integrated into life and society. This occurs when a person experiences a deeper level of reality and meaning, including feelings of delight, joy, and rapture, which informs them about the work they need to do, to truly become themselves.
What initially started my work on this section was a discussion of the pros and cons of perennialism. Perennialism is a concept explored by Aldous Huxley in his book The Perennial Philosophy. In this book, Huxley proposes that all mystics down the ages, whether Daoist, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Islamic or else have essentially experienced and taught the same, or at least something very similar. The differences in their description are obvious but, says Huxley, merely the result of cultural and linguistic differences. By analysing the descriptions of mystics from a variety of backgrounds a clear superstructure of mysticism, the perennial philosophy, could be cognized.
In the wake of Huxley’s publication, a discussion arose mainly amongst academics, about the pros and cons of this so-called perennialism, with most authors coming out in support of Huxley. Importantly, if Huxley could be shown to be completely off-track, if all or every mystic was experiencing something entirely individual and personal, then the value of mysticism and the experiencing of transformative and mystical states would be largely diminished. If mystical states were totally personal, then their cultural value would be peripheral. If, however, it could be shown that mystics repeatedly access the same, or very similar, phenomena, it could be extrapolated these phenomena have near-universal value and application. If it could be shown that Huxley’s basic idea was correct (even if his execution was simplistic), then the total combined body of the wisdom traditions of humanity could be utilized as a canon for a new type of universal mystic and spiritual practitioner. One truly at home in all traditions and has no preference for a single one. A mystic that equally understands the ecstasies of Sufi poets, the mysteries of the Qabalah, the teachings of Daoist, Hindu and Buddhist sages, but also the shamanic and animistic teaching of the Indigenous nations.
This is what this book attempts to do. It will create a common map of all transformative states, and in doing so, will show the entire, combined mystical traditions of humanity as the expression, or the becoming-itself, of one common transcendental object (in this text called the Divine), which expresses itself in all cultures and ages. The term “transcendental object” here stands for what the Abrahamic religions variously called The Father, Yahweh or Allah, what Lao-tzu calls the Dao, what Buddha calls Nirvana, what Hindu tantrics call The Mother, what Lakota medicine men call the Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, what Indian Vaishnavites call Krishna or Rama, and what Advaita Vedantins call the nirguna Brahman, the formless Absolute.
Huxley’s idea was a very important one, but he fell behind in its execution. Huxley essentially accepted that the true, right and perennial mystical experience, that is at the base of every revelation, is the experience of pure consciousness, of the formless absolute, of a transcendental object that is eternal, infinite, formless and quality-less. This is obviously the experience behind the Buddhist concepts of nirvana (a term denoting the extinguishing of a flame) and shunyata (emptiness). We can also neatly trace this type of experience in the Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta, where the nirguna Brahman (formless Absolute) is the only true reality, whereas the world is seen as an illusion (maya), superimposed onto consciousness like a mirage. We can further trace this state from India westwards to the Christian mystics like Dionysios, the Areopagite (8th century), and Eckhart of Hohenheim (12th century), who both spoke of God as divine darkness, a state beyond the intellect that cannot be known. We can also follow the footsteps of the formless-Absolute-experience eastwards to China, where it surfaced as the Dao in Lao-tzu’s and Chuang-tzu’s teaching, an abstract principle that cannot be fathomed by the mind and that yet manifests and balances everything. Even further east, the formless Absolute also surfaces in the Japanese state religion, Shinto, and possibly here it is the most clearly visible in the profound stillness, simplicity and austerity of classical Japanese art, such as painting and music.
If we want to see the experience of pure consciousness and the formless Absolute at the heart of all mystical experience, then we can, with Huxley, weave a pretty good case around this experience having been accessed by a wide variety of mystics across the planet. However, we have to leave out a lot of data points, our exposition will be tendentious, to say the least. Let’s start with India: while the formless Absolute/infinite consciousness is the stalwart of Hinduism’s most popular school of philosophy, Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta, it has been opposed down the ages by numerous other schools. The Vaishnavaites, the tantric Shaktaites, the Kashmir Shaivites, the Samkhyites, the devotees of Rama or Krishna, and the Patanjali yogis all agree there is much more to mysticism than the formless Absolute. Many of these schools hold that the world is real and not an illusion. All Hindu philosophies accept the Upanishads as their bedrock. George C. Adams Jr., in his book Badarayana’s Brahma Sutras analysed the Upanishads and concluded that only 15% of their statements refer to the infinite consciousness/formless Absolute (nirguna Brahman), whereas the remainder refers to the Divine as with form (saguna Brahman). The Bhagavad Gita for example, is a text that predominantly explores how the Absolute expresses itself in the world, as the God immanent (saguna Brahman). To follow through with his argument, Huxley had to act as if Hinduism consisted exclusively of Advaita Vedanta.
If we look at the Abrahamic religions, the differences become more glaring. There were a few Christian mystics that admitted a pure-consciousness-type experience of the Divine, but they had a hard time staying alive because they were pursued as heretics. Studying Christian mysticism, it becomes obvious that a loving, Bhakti-type (yoga of love and surrender) relationship to a Divine-with-form, is the mainstay of this religion. This is also plainly obvious if we read the New Testament of the Bible.
The same is to be said of Judaism. Huxley’s main critics actually came from the fold of the kabbalah, Jewish mystics, who did not recognize themselves in Huxley’s preference of the pure-consciousness-experience. Both in the Kabbalah and Hassidism (another school of Jewish mysticism), the practitioner develops a passionate love-relationship with the Divine. This is not the cool, detached Nirvana-approach, but a method in which emotion and passion are used to transform the lower, outer, phenomenal self, the day-to-day personality of the practitioner. This starkly contrasts with the pure-consciousness-approach of the, by Huxley, favoured school of Advaita Vedanta, where according to its main proponent Shankara, the lower self (jiva) does not actually exist, but like the world is just an illusion, a mirage.
Similar to Judaism and Christianity, so also in Islam, devotees do not just mediate in stillness until they see the formless Absolute, but instead an emotional, devotional desire for the Divine is developed in which often intense yearning, passion and suffering are invoked to bring about personal transformation. This is apparent in the poetry of R’abia of Basra, Attar, Rumi and in its greatest perfection, in Hafiz of Shiraz.
At this point, we then have two strikingly different categories of mystical states. Firstly, those that Huxley gave voice to, the cool, detached, eyes-half closed, dissociate form of meditation of a Buddha, Shankara and Lao-tzu. But the ecstatic, devotional Bhakti-experience characteristic for the Abrahamic religions, but also for devotional Hinduism, such as the cult of Krishna.
But what about the shamanic and animistic experiences that form the Earth-based spirituality of Indigenous people? The two types of religion we have discussed so far are entirely portable. That means you can be a devotee (in India called a bhakta) or a follower of the consciousness-only school (in India called a jnani) wherever you are, and the location does not change your practice. In indigenous spirituality the location matters because here we experience ourselves as an emanation of the land on which we live. You are related to the local animals, which are your spirit guides. You are also related to the mountains, rocks, the land, the rivers, oceans and plants, located all around you. In earth-based spirituality, all these are the ancestors of humanity. Indigenous religion is a religion of many spirits with whom humanity negotiates an interdependent life, involving all lifeforms. A true perennial (meaning eternal) philosophy cannot exist without indigenous spirituality, the original and most ancient form of human spirituality.
As explained, if we want to give earth-based spirituality, the indigenous religion, a name, then it would be the term animism for the original form, and the term shamanism for the somewhat more contemporary form. The shamanic-animistic complex, however, does not always stand by itself but is sometimes integrated as an original stratum into more modern religions. A good example here is the Japanese Shinto religion, in which many shrines are dedicated to mountains, trees and spirits. Another example is Indian tantrism, in which offerings are often made to earth-spirits (nagas) and in which also tree spirits (the holy Banyan), and location spirits (for example, the Himalayas but also many lakes) are worshipped. Perhaps animism, the belief that all of creation is alive, found its way into Daoism. And the oldest form of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingmapa, is a fusion of shamanism, tantric practices and Buddhist philosophy. In Bali, we find a fascinating synthesis in which knowledge-based Buddhism, devotional Hinduism and the original animistic indigenous religion have combined in a three-tiered complexity.
A system that explains mysticism in its entirety must then consider there are at least three separate categories of mystical experiences, which deal with three aspects of the Divine. Or is there even a fourth level? Are all the experiences in which we, powered by an activation of the heart chakra, recognize the Divine in the person across from us, contained in the categories outlines so far? This chapter will offer a map that attempts to answer these questions, acknowledging that there are different categories of mystical experiences that cannot, and should not, be reduced to each other. It will also show a way forward towards an integrated spirituality that avoids the pits into which Aldous Huxley fell, while yet saving his overarching premise, there is a perennial philosophy. The philosophy is of one the Divine, which expresses itself on four levels.
THE PYRAMID-MAP OF TRANSFORMATIVE STATES
The model I am using to explain mystical states is that of the pyramid, to be precise a four-layered-, or four-storeyed pyramid. The top storey of the pyramid culminates in the apex. At this point, the pyramid is narrowed down to a point, and correspondingly mystical states pertaining to this layer have the least amount of divergence. This is the layer that Huxley described, and he was attracted to its small amount of divergence. When analysing these states, reported by various cultures and ages, we are immediately struck by their similarity. Also, when we look at their interpretation, the philosophies that arose from them, we conclude that they indeed point towards a common source, a perennial philosophy. Huxley almost exclusively analysed reports from this layer, hence the conclusion to which he came. Rather than simply refuting Huxley, I am proposing that he wrote only about the apex of the pyramid, it’s topmost tier. The complete pyramid model adds three more layers, coherently explaining and interpreting states he ignored. There is, after all, a perennial philosophy, but one much more complex, nuanced, multi-facetted and multi-layered than the one that Huxley proposed.
Pyramid of Transformative States
THE TOP TIER: THE EXPERIENCE OF PURE CONSCIOUSNESS, POWERED BY THE CROWN CHAKRA
The top-layer of the pyramid represents the experience of pure, content-free consciousness, atman or nirguna Brahman, as it is called in Sanskrit. Typical exponents and testimonies of this top-layer are the Jnana Yoga, Shankaracharya’s non-dualist Advaita Vedanta, Gautama Buddha’s philosophy, Mahavira’s Jainism, the Tibetan Dzogchen, and in China Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu’s teachings of Daoism. But even in Christian mysticism we find this school represented by Meister Eckhart von Hohenheim and his students, Dionysios the Areopagite (today by scholars often called pseudo-Dionysius) and the Belgium 14th century monk Johan Ruisbroek. In Patanjali’s yoga we are referring to this state as objectless samadhi, in Sanskrit called nirbija or asamprajnata samadhi (super-cognitive samadhi). A prolonged remaining in this state according to Patanjali leads to kaivalya – spiritual liberation.
All these experiences are powered by the crown chakra and what we behold here is the God transcendent, the transcendental aspect of the Divine, the infinite consciousness. As the infinite consciousness is eternal, spatially unlimited, and without quality and form, it is not only everywhere the same but also in everybody the same. This is so because we share the same atman, the same consciousness. A person experiencing the atman in India four-thousand years ago, a person doing the same in Japan in the 12th century, and somebody experiencing this today anywhere in the world, are literally having exactly the same experience. Because all of time and space occur within the same consciousness, from wherever in space and whenever in time we access it, it will always be exactly the same. However, as we come out of the mystical state, our mind and ego will reboot. Ego and mind will then use our cultural background and context to describe the state; hence semiotics will create superficial differences in descriptions given by varied authors.
An interesting anecdote connects these types of states to the crown chakra, while pointing out there are other worthwhile states. The 18th-century Indian sage Ramakrishna was a devotional Tantric who worshipped the Hindu Goddess of destruction, Kali. He used to experience the category of mystical states typical for devotional Hinduism and the Abrahamic religions. After he had reached ecstatic states through this form of worship, he came under the tutelage of an Advaita Vedantic (i.e. dealing with the formless Absolute) master named Totapuri. Totapuri was a typical exponent of pure consciousness-driven states, as a non-dualist, he was not taken by Ramakrishna’s worship. A pure Advaitin looks at a personified deity (such as Ramakrishna’s Kali) as an artificial wedge driven between the consciousness of the practitioner and the infinite, universal consciousness. According to pure Advaita Vedanta there is no distinction between the two. A proposition of a personal deity, therefore, is presumably merely a diversion and, for advanced practitioners, supposedly a waste of time. Totapuri taught Ramakrishna to meditate on pure, formless and content-less consciousness, a practice which in Patanjali’s parlance is called objectless samadhi. To Totapuri, Ramakrishna with no preparation went in a single sitting straight into objectless samadhi and remained therein motionless for over 12 hours, considered an incredible feat.
After 12 hours, Totapuri checked Ramakrishna’s vital functions and found that his whole body had become cold and stiff and the only part of his body that showed normal body temperature was the crown of his head. Ramakrishna’s experience at the time was powered by the fact that all his life force (prana) was absorbed in the very top of his head, the crown chakra. Yogis, who are highly technical meditators, long time ago discovered that you can access the state of pure consciousness not just by focusing directly on consciousness (which is difficult because as a formless and infinite object, it eludes the mind), but also by fixing all vital force (prana) at the crown of the head.
When Ramakrishna, brought about by Totapuri’s prodding, finally exited the state of pure consciousness, he made several baffling statements. Firstly, he said that the intrinsic value and meaning of the state of pure consciousness was no different, (and certainly not higher) than what he had experienced through devotional ecstasy. We need to remember that as we work through the following material. For not only do the followers of pure consciousness (we find them in most or all religions) believe that their states are higher and more significant than those experienced by other mystics (such as indigenous shamans or devotional bhaktas), but even within the actual schools of yoga we find the belief that states associated with the crown chakra are higher and more significant than those associated with the third-eye- or throat chakras. Ramakrishna certainly denied this with crown-chakra-induced states (experiences of pure consciousness) and third-eye-chakra-induced states (devotional ecstasy). He said both are one and of the same import. He did interject that crown-chakra-induced states give no information on how to live one’s life. They confer an experience only of the transcendental, the formless Absolute and infinite consciousness, and therefore remove all fear of death.
But more baffling to Totapuri and more important, was Ramakrishna’s second statement. He held that states of devotional ecstasy were more applicable to living in this world, as they are more conducive to interacting with other people and to leading an active life. There is amongst contemporary seekers and practitioners an over-emphasizing of crown chakra experiences. There is a general and misguided belief these states are a panacea for all problems, but they really only allay fear of death and fear of the unknown. The problem is that in many religions and spiritual movements there is not only an overemphasising of the transcendental aspect of the Divine, but also a reducing of all mystical states to those brought about by the crown chakra. In yoga, this demonstrates itself in the fact that practitioners only care about how they can, as quickly as possible, get to objectless samadhi, not realizing that this samadhi does not teach us how to live our current life. It does not teach us, for example, about right action (dharma), our life’s divine purpose (svadharma) and service to others.
Unfortunately, this overemphasizing of the crown chakra, and the reducing of other important mystical states to that of pure consciousness has turned us away from life, the world, relationships and the body. The crown chakra cannot show us that all of these are the crystallized body of the Divine. Sincere yogis often succumb to the fallacy of wanting to quickly evolve up the chakra hierarchy, to ultimately get out of their bodies, and into nirvana. Regularly this is fuelled by the seeming complexity of modern life with all its frustrations and hopelessness. This wish is respective of what Sigmund Freud called Thanatos, the death urge, which includes the urge to die, to kill, and to become non-existent. This Thanatos, however, also fuels our destruction of life, the biosphere and all the beauty of nature. As a spiritual practitioner, firstly, we need to place ourselves into the service of life itself. Any tendency of wanting to escape its complexity, cannot be in service of life. An overemphasizing of the crown chakra also leads to solipsism, the belief that only one’s mind or self exists. That other categories of mystical states are possibly more important and necessary than crown chakra states for a whole range of issues, we will explore next.
THE SECOND TIER: THE EXPERIENCE OF COSMIC INTELLIGENCE, POWERED BY THE THIRD-EYE CHAKRA
On this level, we directly experience the intelligence that out of itself makes quarks and photons, forming elementary particles, which again form atoms and elements, which form molecules and compounds, which form minerals, mountains, continents, ocean, planets, stars, star clusters, galaxies and universes. We directly experience this intelligence, which manifests itself as the natural evolution of life from the amoeba to the human and onwards, until life forms appear that can understand this cosmic intelligence, receive it and co-create reality with it.
Mystical experiences belonging to this level have a very different taste to those of the first level. In India, this level is called saguna Brahman, the Divine with form. A typical example would be Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Another example is Jesus Christ, of which the Bible says, “A child will be born and his name will be Emmanuel, meaning God-with-us.” In philosophy, this form of the sacred is called the God immanent. The term immanent and Emmanuel are derived from the same root, it means “with us” or “perceptible”. In the Indian Upanishads the divine with form is sometimes called the perceptible Brahman, which is opposed to the God transcendent (beyond perception), the formless Absolute. If the Divine could be perceived, we could derive much more information from it about how to live our lives than could be gained from the formless Absolute, the transcendental aspect of the Divine. The pure consciousness/God transcendent (although it forms our innermost core) is far removed from us in that regard that pure consciousness has little or no investment in us or even in the whole of humanity. The transcendental aspect of the Divine (pure consciousness) cannot actually experience grief, even if the whole of humanity commits murder of the biosphere (ecocide or omnicide, the murder of all) and then goes extinct with an environmental holocaust. Although most modern people would not intellectualize it in this precise way, there is a distinct collective feeling of, “Why should I care if not even God cares?” I have even heard pseudo-spiritual practitioners rationalize, “Environmental holocaust, mass extinction and ecocide are only notions occurring in the infinite ocean of consciousness.” It is actually true and correct to say that the transcendental aspect of the Divine does not care because It is pure consciousness and therefore cannot judge right or wrong. It only simply is aware and conscious. What we should learn from this is that any theology or spiritual teaching that overemphasizes pure consciousness is flawed because it leaves out dharma, i.e. the search for what is right action. However, the immanent aspect of the Divine, cosmic intelligence, which has crystallized into the world and all beings, does care about creation and is intricately linked with it, and that’s what will explore in this section.
When dealing with the immanent aspect of the Divine, a big obstacle for those analytically and intellectually inclined is that in most cases it has been anthropomorphized, it has been given human characteristics. We need to understand this has nothing to do with the God immanent but with the human tendency to project, and with our difficulty to understand the Divine without anthropomorphisation. As Sigmund Freud showed in convincing terms, as the infant grows up, she will project all her needs first on the mother and then later on the father. As we grow up then, this projection is transferred onto our romantic partners, superiors, political leaders, sports and military heroes, spiritual teachers and finally onto the Divine. While astute observers of human history may want to despair over our continued need to project a parent role on figures that ultimately have utilized and exploited this, it is simply a result of the human infant being born with no survival skills, and its need to learn these skills over a period of 20-30 years before maturing intellectually. To what degree maturity in us develops at all is a contentious issue. A 1948 psychiatrist convention in the USA concluded the United States harboured less than 1 million people to fulfil the definition of psychological maturity. This should give us at least an idea of how complex this issue is.
When understanding the immanent aspect of the Divine, it is indeed helpful to initially act as if She was a human being. In the history of religion the personal pronoun She for various reasons was often used to refer to the God immanent. In Indian tantrism the transcendental aspect of the Divine is often identified as the male god Shiva (the name Shiva being a metaphor for pure consciousness), whereas the immanent aspect of the Divine is identified with the goddess Shakti (a metaphor for the divine creative force, or procreatress). The Indian terms prakrti, prana, Uma, Parvati or Kundalini are likewise placeholders for the mother goddess. The term also exists in Hebrew, where She is called Shekinah, the feminine or energetic aspect of God. In the Greek New Testament, the term pneuma is used to describe the energy or breath of God. Notice that in India, the term prana (breath), which is etymologically related to the Greek pneuma, is also an epithet of the divine feminine. When the New Testament was translated into Latin the term spiritu was chosen to represent pneuma and again it is related to breathing. Same as the Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin sources, the English term ‘inspiring’ denotes both inhaling and revelation. The two meanings converge, and in the Gospel of Mark, we find that Jesus, after having been baptized by John, came up from the waters, inhaled the breath of God and was thus baptized by spirit, i.e. he attained revelation. The exact Bible wording is “when he came up the breath of God alighted on him like a dove and remained henceforth”. Some yogic texts use similar words to describe Kundalini-awakenings.
While in Indian religions, the role of the divine feminine maintained its importance for somewhat longer, in the Middle East and Europe the Great Goddess quickly became replaced with ambiguous terms, such as the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit. Seeing that Jesus is the son, we must assume that the Father must have cohabitated with a Mother (the Great Goddess) to produce a child, but since the order of the day was to disempower women, the Mother was quickly replaced with the Holy Ghost, so that the oh-so-holy divine masculine was not contaminated and corrupted by any feminine and material influence.
However, when talking about the Father (transcendental aspect of the Divine) and the Mother (immanent aspect of the Divine) we have to remain clear about the fact that neither are humans. Anthropomorphisation (projecting human characteristics onto the Divine) can be helpful if we know that we are using a metaphor for something that is ultimately too difficult to describe otherwise. The God immanent, the Great Goddess, is humanlike in that regard that She is intelligent (notice that the term intelligence in many languages has a feminine gender, for example, in German – die Intelligenz), but Her intelligence encompasses the computing power of the entire cosmos. She is cosmic intelligence. A human on the other side has some form of intelligence, but it is largely limited to what is between his ears (I say largely here because, as described in How To Find Your Life’s Divine Purpose, the human brain is capable of channelling a fair bit of cosmic intelligence). The God immanent is also humanlike in that regard She is embodied, but while Her body is the sum total of all universes, the body of a human takes up only a minuscule five- to seven-feet tall space, in an otherwise infinite multiverse.
But the main difference between a human and the God immanent is that the human has an ego, and the immanent aspect of the Divine hasn’t. Ego is a piece of software that is a filter on our consciousness and enables the consciousness within us to identify for a limited time with a particular body and mind. We can therefore call this compound the egoic body-mind. Because the immanent aspect of the Divine does not have an ego (limiter in space and time), it is therefore everywhere and simultaneously in all timeframes. This is important for us to realize because there is no time and no place where we cannot access the Divine because there is nothing but the Divine. Additionally we need to understand that divine grace and divine love is bestowed on us all the time and cannot be withheld because the Divine does not have an ego from which to withhold grace. Lack of understanding of this has caused endless suffering, holy wars and much more.
The reason why human beings exist is that infinite consciousness (the Father, whom we experience in the crown chakra) can only be conscious of the material world (the Mother, whom we experience in the third-eye chakra) in a general sense because the God transcendent also does not have an ego to limit itself in time and space. The transcendental aspect of the Divine is simply an infinite ocean of consciousness that cannot limit itself in time and space. The God immanent (cosmic intelligence, the Mother) likewise can only express Herself in a general form by crystallizing Herself as an intelligent, material universe following intelligent laws. It does take the introduction of a piece of software called ego, which combines both the Father and the Mother in a single being, a so-called lifeform. In such a lifeform, both consciousness and intelligence are spatially and temporally limited, meaning a lifeform has a body and a span of life. A basic form of ego is common to all lifeforms, from the amoeba to the human. All lifeforms collectively form the divine child, referred to by the sexist term ‘son of God’ (it should be gender-neutrally called ‘child of God’). Each lifeform is a conduit, a canal in which the infinite consciousness (the Father) and the cosmic intelligence (the Mother) permutate and compute themselves. Each being is truly divine as Jesus rightly said, “And have I not said Ye all are Gods. Ye all are children of the Most High.”
The mystic at this level is not to sit like Buddha in objectless samadhi, still and motionless, with an empty mind, which is simply the function of the crown chakra. No, the function of the third-eye chakra is the renewal of society, the ability to bring, via mystical states, new information into society, information which it not yet possesses. All great progress in society from the ancient lawgivers like Manu, Moses and Muhammad, to poets like Valmiki, Sappho, Dante and Shakespeare, to composers like Bach, Beethoven and Hildegard von Bingen, to painters like Frida Kahlo, van Gogh and Dali, to scientists like Marie Curie, Einstein, Planck, to engineers like Stevenson, Edison and Tesla, has been caused by divine inspiration and revelation. Whether those inventors rationalized it in this way or not, a solution to a problem does not actually come from us thinking the solution into reality, but when the mind is receptive and intuitively aligned for an influx from cosmic intelligence. Our purpose in life is to facilitate this state so we can consciously co-create with the Divine. I have described this process in my earlier text How To Find Your Life’s Divine Purpose – Brain Software for a New Civilization.
If the relationship with the Divine, powered by the activation of the third-eye chakra, is consciously experienced at this level, it then often engenders a devotional Bhakti spirituality. Devotees often feel a great love for the Divine, as typically expressed by the Persian mystic Hafiz of Shiraz. As seen from the chart, at this level, the pyramid is already much wider, which implies a significantly larger divergence in experiences, although similarities exist. The activation of the third-eye chakra (and the crown chakra, too) also gave us sky-based religions. This term implies that the Divine was projected into the sky, into heaven or even further away into nothingness or nirvana. But because we also lost access to the throat chakra, we lost earth-based spirituality and the understanding that Earth, all matter and all life (especially non-human life) is also sacred and crystallized spirit. This led to our estrangement from nature, to speciesism, and the human-made mass extermination of life on Earth. Because we lost access to the heart chakra, we looked at those who worshipped a different God as infidels. This became the cause of holy wars.
THE THIRD TIER: THE MATERIAL WORLD AS THE CRYSTALLIZED BODY OF THE DIVINE, POWERED BY THE THROAT CHAKRA
Whereas the second tier makes us realize cosmic intelligence directly, here we experience its results. We realize that the entire material world containing all beings, is not disjointed dumb and dead matter, but that the world is the crystallized body of God. It is like living inside a supercomputer of infinite intelligence, with the only difference this supercomputer is sentient, feeling and alive. We can understand the relationship of the second to the third layer by thinking of the second layer as the software and third layer as the hardware and hard drive of the second layer, cosmic intelligence.
But the IT metaphor is only suitable for describing the relationship of both of these layers to each other. The difference is that both layers are actually alive. The second layer is the source of all our intelligence and inspiration. We can say that the second layer is the superconscious mind of each individual, it is the part where the individual mind is linked into the cosmic mind. The third layer of the pyramid is where we learn that microbes, fungi, animals and plants are our brothers and sisters with whom we share the biosphere, with the purpose to create more life in a symbiotic process. But the knowledge here goes much deeper still. Everything we see is crystallized spirit and intelligence. That includes the mountains, oceans, forests, rivers, lakes and the atmosphere, which are only our mothers and fathers, our ancestors. Indigenous cultures still know this today, and worship these entities, but modern humanity has unfortunately lost this knowledge. Opening of this chakra lets us ultimately see that all matter is the crystallized body of God. All matter is sacred. This level is about falling in love again with nature and about a re-enchantment of the world. About seeing the beauty of nature in all its many manifestations. Our current philosophy, built on the subject-object split, lets us treat matter as if it is dumb dirt and is what has led to the host of problems we are facing today. There is no dumb dirt. It’s all sacred and every place is a sacred site. Because of our misguided perception of matter as dumb dirt and our belief we accidentally sprung from dumb dirt, we are destroying this miraculous biosphere and are literally cutting off the branch on which we sit.
A complete activation of this throat chakra leads to an animistic understanding, that is the realization there is nothing dead in this universe, and that everything is spirit. Indigenous people do commune with rock spirits, wind spirits, fire spirits, and the spirits of mountains and rivers. For too long, in its hubris modern humanity has mocked indigenous people as primitive and savage. With a fully activated throat chakra we realize that it is us, who are primitive. We are the ones, who do not fully understand the world in which we live. It is us, modern, industrial humanity, who are the savages because via colonialism we are responsible for the death of tens of Millions of Indigenous people around the world and down the centuries. The exact number may actually exceed 100 million killed, but for obvious reasons documentation and research on this subject is sparse.
Throat-chakra-states prepare us to recognize the entire biosphere as an intelligent living being that deserves our love and veneration. It is our mother. The throat chakra is even more important for the evolution of humanity than the two higher layers of the pyramid. If we don’t relate to the biosphere as our mother and lover, then in a few decades, there may not be humanity.
The pyramid model shows the throat chakra layer as being much wider than the two layers above. This illustrates that there is a much greater diversity among throat chakra states than at the higher levels. They vary extensively for different locations. The spirit is different everywhere. Another example is that all native medicine came about because indigenous people communed with plant spirits, animal spirits and mineral spirits, who taught them. The indigenous people of the Amazon know of 50,000 different healing plants. The anthropologists working with them must claim that the indigenous people got this knowledge by trial and error. This is laughable. Bands and small tribes of indigenous people usually have from around 2 dozen to sometimes a few hundred members. In such a setting, everybody in your world is your relative. You cannot experiment with a sick person because they are related to you. You also cannot risk to not heal them as you will live with their relatives for the rest of your life. It is ridiculous to assume that shamans had the freedom to make trial-and-error medical experiments with their own people, as if they were living, like Dr Mengele, in a moral vacuum.
If you ask the indigenous people how they arrived at their healing knowledge, they will say, “the plants told us”. Unfortunately, modern humanity’s hubris neither allows us to listen to plants, nor to take our indigenous ancestors seriously and to respect them. Since there is only one cosmic intelligence and everything is a crystallization of it, we are related to plants and rocks, too. Rock spirit is our oldest ancestor, which is confirmed by the mineral components of our body being its oldest parts. Science is now making tentative progress in describing these phenomena as we now know, for example, that humans and trees share 40% of the same DNA. Of course, we can understand them, if we only sincerely try.
Different to the two top tiers, throat-chakra-states are not portable, their differences depend on the land on which they occur. As an indigenous person, if you visit the area of another culture or tribe, you first negotiate with your hosts for them to introduce you to country. You don’t approach the spirits of the land directly but through the people who have lived there for thousands, sometimes ten-thousands of years. The local indigenous people are the custodians and guardians of their country, the land on which they live. Coastal ceremonies in a certain area will completely differ from those in mountainous or desert areas.
Another difference is the approach of indigenous people to time. Australian Aborigines for example, are traveling through the vast empty continent along song lines and are using incantations and songs to “sing” the destination into the present. It is possible that whales use song lines in a similar navigator fashion. The different relationship that indigenous people have to time is highlighted in the following story. A group of anthropologists once wanted to introduce a tribe of Amazon hunter-gatherers to Jesus. When they told them that Jesus did live in Israel two thousand years ago, the indigenous people asked, “not here, not now?” They then lost interest and walked away. Because they do not share our concepts of time and space as involving separation, they are not interested in portable religions.
The Balinese people, also informed by throat-chakra-states and animism, constantly perform offerings to keep the spirit world going. This used to also be the case in the Indian Vedic culture, but is to a large extent lost, although some yagyas and yajnas (types of rituals) continue. The Vedas are largely animistic texts that describe the whole of the natural world as alive, and it is because of this that they appear so alien to us today. Nineteenth-century Western scholars described the Vedas as gibberish. They are the only animistic scriptures that humanity has ever produced, and it is because of that animistic nature we find it difficult to understand them. The Vedas say that abundance comes from an attitude of giving, whereas modern business philosophy has it that it is derived from taking. After the Vedic age, the Upanishads shifted attention away from animism and shamanism to third-eye-chakra and crown-chakra experiences.
Different to the two highest levels of the pyramid, which reflect an emptiness-based and sky-based spirituality, on the level of the throat chakra, we encounter earth-based animistic spirituality. Like all other levels, this one also is not immune to decay and corruption. In an original animistic society, every single member of a community is in contact with the spirit world. In some cultures, as time went on shamans, healers and medicine people derived more powers, a process that in in some places descended into constant tribal warfare, black magic and occultism. That a corruption of the throat chakra makes some indigenous cultures caught in a vicious cycle of sorcery has been reported by many anthropologists and shamans, including Carlos Castaneda, Jared Diamond, Martin Prechtel and Malidoma Patrice Somé.
In modern society, a corruption of the throat chakra (sometimes caused by DMT use) has us focus on conflicts between humanity and extra-terrestrial races, UFO abductions, or races that have previously come to Earth and are manipulating us. Western Science is also among the excesses of the throat chakra. We only need to remind ourselves of Rene Descartes vision of an angel who told him, “Control of nature is by means of measure and number”. While science has brought numerous advantages, it has brought them only for humanity and often only for white males of the ruling class. Every year a greater amount of wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. At the same time, people of colour, women, other species and the land are coerced, manipulated and exploited. The techno-utopia that was still promised in the 1950s and 60s is postponed further and further into an unknown future, and if it should ever come, then only for the super-wealthy elite. Western science today is often just a tool of domination, coercion and manipulation in the hands of those in power to further cement their position. A complete treatment of the subject how the philosophy of science is related to our alienation of and exploitation from nature is beyond the scope of this book. For more information, please consult Charles Eisenstein’s epic The Ascent of Humanity. The subject-object split, a foundation of the philosophy of science has created our idea of other. Othering is the source of most of our society’s problems. The split between observer-observed and mind and matter, once introduced, will re-create the dichotomy of me versus you and us versus them in humans vs nature, sedentary agriculturists vs nomadic herders, industrialists vs indigenous people, faithfuls vs infidels, whites vs blacks and men against women. All these conflicts are caused by a lack of seeing ourselves in the other and the other in us. This expanded sense of self is caused by mystical experiences and their banishment from the core of our culture has caused inconceivable harm down the centuries. It is time now for us to become agents for healing.
THE FOURTH TIER: TO SEE THE DIVINE IN EACH BEING, POWERED BY THE HEART CHAKRA
In the heart chakra we encounter humanity-based spirituality, the realization that the Divine is embodied in each individual, that we all are children of the Divine. The heart chakra teaches us we first need to come to a place of self-love, self-acceptance and self-esteem and from there, we can relate to others with a sense of dignity and freedom. This is gained after we give up any inner conflict with ourselves. The heart chakra teaches us we subconsciously initiate conflicts with others to externalize and outwardly project psychological conflicts we carry within us. We cannot obtain peace outside if we are still in a state of war within. We go out and compete with others, outdo them in sports and economy, invade their countries and colonize and exploit their lands because, deep within, we feel unworthy. We feel that if we have achieved something we will finally be worthy in the eyes of others and that will give us self-worth. But this self-worth never comes. No success and consumption inoculate us against depression, anxiety, trauma, panic attacks and a plethora of mental illnesses, which is a quagmire into which modern humanity will gradually descend unless it heals its spirituality and connection with nature.
That the world we experience reflects our inner world, was first popularized in the West by Carl Gustav Jung in his dream analysis. However, Jung learned this approach from studying yogic philosophy. In his Transformation and Symbols of Libido Jung quoted passages from the Vedas and Upanishads as early as 1912. He lectured in 1932 on Kundalini Yoga and in 1938 on the Yoga Sutra. In 1952 Jung published his book The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga. He is a true pioneer for introducing yoga to Western thought, however, yoga goes much further and is much more radical. In yoga, not only the dream state, but also the waking state is seen as an outward projection of subconscious forces. This does not mean that the outer world is an illusion, but it means that our subconscious draws into our presence factors and individuals that present particular deeply held traumas we previously incurred. These traumas are like archetypes that re-occur in our lives in new acquaintances we make, until they are recognized and healed. This teaches us to eventually give up the concept of otherness. We recognize that others are not adversaries in a rat race to demonstrate our fitness for survival by overcoming our foes, but they provide us with opportunities to consummate our karma, caused by our own previous actions.
In this context, forgiveness is important. We tend to go through life entertaining righteous anger (sometimes called holy anger) and holding grudges against people who have slighted or outsmarted us is a big part of that. We believe that we are entitled to hold those grudges and that somehow, they enrich us. We believe that if we let these grudges go, we would come up short, impoverished. We are afraid that letting go of grudges would mean we are letting others off the hook. But with these grudges, we are ultimately only hurting ourselves, for the subconscious cannot differentiate whether we metre out judgement towards others or towards ourselves. It always goes both ways. If we carry around a deep aversion against somebody, our subconscious cannot differentiate whether the aversion is against us or somebody else. It will apply it equally in both directions. For example, our conscious mind may say, “I hate so and so,” but the subconscious mind will translate this into “I am hatred” and gradually poison us by doing so. Combine that with the fact that, at the moment of death, our mode of judging will turn around and be applied to us, then letting go of one’s grudges and negative judgements is one of the healthiest decisions we ever make. It is basic mental hygiene. That’s why Jesus said, “By the same metre by thou judgest, thou yourself shall be judged”. The heart chakra informs us we must forgive. The root of all conflict is the contracted sense of self that we carry in us because as a society, a collective, we have not yet matured beyond the first three chakras. This expresses itself as the process of othering, which is only excluding somebody or something from our own sense of self. The beginning of the end of the process of othering takes places here in the heart chakra. Once fully activated, it includes the whole of humanity into our sense of self. This process is to be continued by activating the still higher chakras to prevent speciesism, exploitation of nature, etc.
The heart chakra also teaches us that each being has its own unique duty (svadharma) to perform here on Earth. That’s why we should be cautious about recommending to others what their life path should be. Such an action is often just projecting onto them our own unlived and unacknowledged desires and traumas. Ultimately, as long as another person does not cause harm to other people, other species, or the land, their life’s divine purpose is an affair between them and God only. At this fourth level of the pyramid, there is the greatest divergence of expressions. The pyramid of mystical states rests on the wide base of the heart chakra, its wideness reflecting the fact that it accommodates the unique divine purpose (svadharma) of each individual.
This is excerpt from my recent book Chakras, Drugs and Evolution.