AYAHUASCA AND ITS PHENOMENOLOGY
Inspired both by the Mariri flower and by the Chacrona, which have five petals, I schematise the phenomenon of Ayahuasca with the use of a pentagram. A pentagonal experience, where each of the petals of the mystical flower represents one of the facets of the experience.
1. The psychosomatic experience (strength and health):
This is characterised by the rise to the surface of consciousness of new personal “contents”, which before were either unconscious or pre-conscious. It is a healing psycho-dynamic where reactions and catharses are possible and positive, allowing one to re-live experiences which have been stored away in the memory with the resolution of conflicts.
The catharsis may come about at the physical level as a kind of cleaning or detoxification. The spiritual catharsis happens at deeper levels, purging the self of difficulties, toxins and traumas accumulated in the course of life. The profundity of the experience and how much benefit there is to be had from it depend on the individual, on the intensity of his spiritual search and on his willingness and disposition to surrender his ego.
“Ab-reaction” means a regressive process back to the situation or source of a problem or trauma. This process allows the person to re-live the experience, to gain understanding and new perspectives, to build new meaning in pursuit of closure or resolution. This takes the form of freedom from guilt and fear, or from any feelings which link the individual to the situation. The process leads to a re-evaluation of one’s way of being, with a strong tendency to seek positive changes, and a renewal of one’s purpose in life.
2. The illuminating experience (light and consciousness):
This is the cognitive aspect of the experience which leads to “knowledge” characterised by “luminous” thoughts and intuition. Problems are seen in a broader way; the inter-relations between the various levels and dimensions are captured better; there is deeper, wiser vision and understanding.
3. The aesthetic experience (beauty and harmony):
An artistic and creative aspect of the experience, where the coordination and intensification of the sensory system allows the flowering of unexpected syntheses – nature pulses with beauty, light, power and life. New shapes and harmonies of colours are revealed; music is heard with one’s whole soul. The imagination overflows with previously unseen images.
4. The affective experience (love and compassion):
An intuitive, palpitating response in the presence of reality leads to a profound sense of the sacred with feelings of humility, reverence and liberation. Feelings containing elements of intense joy, peace and love appear, leading to a sensation in the region of the thorax of something like a flower opening.
The feeling is harmonious; it cures; it provides balm. It awakens love of the earth, love of nature in general, of beings, of people.
5. The mystical experience (oneness and transcendence):
The essence of the mystical experience provided by Ayahuasca can be summed up in a few essential aspects:
UNITY. An experience of cosmic unity where the sense of the “I” somehow “dissolves” (consciousness and memory are not lost); the subject becomes conscious of his greater dimension; he feels integrated into the totality, the one.
TRANSCENDENCE. Time, space, subject and objects are experienced and perceived beyond their usual dimensions, an infinite togetherness of strength, light and beauty.
MYSTERY. The experience is essentially beyond the power of words, though it can be hinted at by the power of art. Logical paradoxes seem to be reconciled; individuals can feel finite and infinite, limited and unlimited, at the same time. The mysteries of life, of existence and of consciousness become evident. The wisdom of Tao and Nirvana; the secrets of the Trinity; the mysteries of Tupa, Ticsi Huiracocha Pachachayachic, of Inti and Quilla may be seen. These are precious, transcendental metaphors and experiences.