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AyahuascaBuddhismSpiritualityTeacher Plants

Are Spirits Real?

Sooner or later, everyone working with ayahuasca has to come to terms with this issue. Who, or what, are those beings we’re seeing in ceremony? What do ayahuasqueros mean when they talk about spirits; the spirit of ayahuasca, for example, or los genios of the plants? What does Santo Daime mean when it speaks of spirit possession, or of hymns transmitted by spirits? Are spirits ‘real,’ in the sense of independently existing entities—or are they the ephemeral projections of our…
Apr 10, 2018

Tourist or Pilgrim? Approaching Ayahuasca

Delphi. Eleusis. Kailas. Mecca. From ancient times, people have traveled to sacred places to be initiated into the mysteries. Power places like these connect humans with the Divine, bringing the earthly plane into alignment with higher worlds. Now the initiatory substance is coming to us. In living rooms across North America and Europe, people are gathering for ayahuasca ceremonies. Underground, yes, as ayahuasca is illegal in most places. But this doesn’t stop the surge in interest, nor the need. You…
Feb 17, 2018

Tonglen and the Evening News

The tidal waves rolled out from the epicenter at 500 miles an hour, the speed of a jetliner, taking up to ten hours to reach foreign shores. It took a few more days for the searing images to reach the television screen and the newspapers. Then the wave hit my heart, full bore. And rocked it. I sat at the computer weeping at the sight of an Indian fisherman holding his dead eight-year-old son. A mother in Sri Lanka wailing…
Mar 31, 2017

Ayahuasca & Meditation

Perhaps the single most important integration practice is some form of regular meditation. Working with ayahuasca can rattle the cage of who you think you are, dismantling your tidy self-definitions. While ultimately this leads to expansion and growth, feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion can arise along the way. This is where meditation enters the picture. A regular practice allows you to sit and work with disturbing emotions without being swept away by internal stories about the Bad that is…
Mar 3, 2017
BuddhismDepth PsychologySpirituality

Wisdom & Compassion, Part I

This is Part I of an article I wrote in 2004 on integrating depth psychology with Buddhist meditation. A .pdf of the entire piece is available here William James, the American writer and psychologist, predicted a century ago that Buddhism would deeply influence Western psychology. Far ahead of his time as usual, James’ prediction is beginning to materialise. Western psychotherapists are increasingly incorporating Buddhist principles and practices, applying them in ways suited to our own modern culture. We see this…
Feb 4, 2004
BuddhismDepth PsychologySpirituality

Wisdom & Compassion, Part II

Part II of an article I wrote in 2004 on integrating depth psychology with Buddhist meditation. A .pdf of the entire piece is available here. The simplest proposition is also the most radical: that our basic nature is open space infused with pure awareness. Beyond all our constructs and beneath all our holding, each of us is no more and no less than spacious awareness – the capacity to know, pure and simple. This “empty essence fused with luminous knowing”…
Feb 3, 2004