Do You Take Responsibility?
taken from the book 'Breaking Open The Head' by
- writing principally about Jim DeKorne's book 'Psychedelic Shamanism'
[Jim DeKorne was one of the subjects in Rick Strassman’s study of DMT (DMT – The Spirit Molecule) ...]
DeKorne went on to write his own book, Psychedelic Shamanism, in which he explored his long term relations to psychoactive plants and the entities he encountered in what he terms mind-space […]
His experiences led him to adopt a Jungian view of the collective unconscious, and of an inner self that transcends the ego's constraints. His own life taught him that "The human psyche transcends corporeal existence, therefore we must be multidimensional entities... The ego is not the center of the psyche, but only the space/time portion of a greater reality which unfolds and reveals itself from what the ego perceives as its own unconscious mind."
Like [Terence] McKenna, DeKorne accepts the shamanic map of the cosmos; by this model, the world of physical existence is a "middle world" between the upper and lower realms accessed via altered states, intuitions, and dreams. It is easy for us to comprehend how a zero-dimensional point becomes a one-dimensional line, how a line extends into a two-dimensional plane, and how a plane is extended to become a three-dimensional cube. Just as time is an extra dimension that extends from space, the "imaginal realms," or "mind-space," are real domains that extend from the dimension of consciousness. "The shaman, in effect, is an ego who has learned how to reconnect with his source in mind-space (Jung's collective unconscious)," he writes. The explorer of "mind-space" first discovers a landscape, including beings and artifacts that relate to his own history, but in that new land he also encounters "other" extradimensional entities. The Gnostics had a word for this inner kingdom of spiritual beings. They called it the Pleroma, a Greek term for fullness or plenitude, later used by Jung.
Once you encounter the shamanic dimensions, you realize these other realms must have their own ecology, their own hierarchies and operational logic. DeKorne examines the models provided by Amazonian shamans, Tibetan Buddhists, Renaissance alchemists, and the Western occult philosophy of Aleister Crowley in an effort to comprehend the laws that govern the psychocosmos. Every mystical tradition posits the existence of spirits or deities that seek to compel the attention and belief of human beings. In the Upanishads, the term for such entities is "Devas." The Hindu text states: "Now if a man worships another deity; thinking the deity is one and he another, he does not know. He is like a beast for the Devas." The Gnostic term for such entities is 'Archons.' The Gnostics believed that the Archons feed on the human soul, "the dew from above," and they try to keep human beings imprisoned in the fallen world of physical reality and ignorance. DeKorne suggests that these "ultraterrestrial entities" are nourished by human belief and human will: 'As monads of the imaginal realm, each Archon seeks to maintain itself, and will conceivably say or do whatever is necessary to gain our attention and worship.... Without worship, a god starves and is absorbed (eaten) by some other entity"
"Who can say that belief is not a form of energy, is not food or fuel used in more abstract realms of existence by entities we have always perceived as gods?" he asks. When voices speak in the heads of schizophrenic patients, they tend to demand bizarre behavior and self-sacrifices. Similarly, in the New Age culture of channelers, the channeled entities often speak in patronising and demanding tones. "This cruel and arrogant. . . attitude of the Archons is only natural… if we compare their behaviour with the way we treat food in our own dimension." Nobody, not even the most soft-hearted vegetarian, asks the feelings of a potato before devouring it.
This viewpoint is similar to that of the mystic Gurdjieff, who believed that everything, including psychic processes and thoughts, is actually a form of material - and all material is, to some extent, sentient. "Everything in its own way is intelligent and conscious," he said. "The degree of consciousness corresponds to the degree of density or the speed of vibrations. The denser the matter, the less conscious it is." In his view, the cosmos employs a system of "reciprocal maintenance," with each level of being feeding on the beings beneath it. The sentient souls of human beings sustain the higher vibrational demiurges above them.
DeKorne's book "holds to the shamanic model of multiple dimensions, accessed via human consciousness, in which dissociated intelligences feed off of human belief systems the way that we eat hamburger," he writes. "It is to these entities' advantage to keep us ignorant of their agendas; they would forfeit independent existence if we chose to become gods ourselves by devouring their energy instead of vice-versa." Through shamanic exploration, humans can learn to become partners, perhaps equals, with such imaginal entities, rather than nutritional supplements. "It follows that the wisely intentional use of any psychedelic drug is as a self-integrating, self-empowering catalyst. In this way the gods (Devas, Archons, spirits, belief complexes, etc.) cannot coerce our worship - we coerce theirs in the form of enhanced personal power." The lesson of shamanism, of visits to different realities, is that we have to grow up, become adults, and claim our own agency in the imaginal realm as well as the "real world" of physical reality.
Part of what I love about DeKorne's book is that he seems to accurately define not only the shamanic dimensions but something crucial about how the "real world" functions. In our lives, it is obvious that beliefs have independent energy and vitality. Beliefs compel followings and take on a life of their own, leaping from host to host. The belief systems active in controlling our world-whether called "patriotism," "free market capitalism," or even "high culture" behave like dangerously independent forces, self-propelling viruses, or like demiurges, devas, or Archons. Both Gurdjieff's philosophy and the psychedelic experience suggest that spiritual growth requires increasing our level of self-awareness and refusing to identify with any external agency. Perhaps our belief systems, and even our socially constructed personalities or egos, function like layers of insulation that must be stripped away if we want to discover what we can become.