Old Souls and Ayahuasca: Checkpoints on the path to enlightenment

I believe in old souls. Heck, I might be one. To me, an old soul has emotional and spiritual maturity. That maturity is less about exposure to spiritual teaching or even to spiritual practice. They seem to have self awareness and intuition. They reflect deeply on the nature of reality.Sometimes all that shows up in someone under 30. I've known a few.

Interacting with an old soul feels intense. An old soul often feels the yearning of consciousness wishing to express and experience itself. That electricity of consciousness greeting consciousness is powerful. Intense. Desireable. Attractive.

So how does this relate to ayahuasca? I suggest we are drawn to old souls for the same reason we are drawn to altered states: our desire for awakening, to know true moments of consciousness.

Ayahuasca is the newest big thing in an ongoing Westernization of spirituality and cultural tradition. We take on yoga as exercise. We take on Aboriginal shamanism to fill the void left by traditional religion. We pursue spiritual highs. Chemical shortcuts to higher consciousness? Or a fundamental issue in how we approach spiritual awakening?

How does this relate to age? To me, being an old soul may accelerate your spiritual growth, but you need the corresponding emotional maturity to embody that. Awakening and enlightenment are about the truth of who you/we are. But age matters to be able to be fully express and relate from this place of awakening.

Similarly, our society pursues short cuts to spiritual growth. We confuse the activity of practice with the fruits of it.

Research supports the idea that psychedelic spiritual experience may be valid, but is not sustained without a deeper practice to connect it with.
A single spiritual experience is no guarantee of a spiritual life or an ethical lifestyle (Barnard & Kripal, 2002;
Novak, 1989; Smith & Novak, 2003). However, longterm practice and multiple experiences appear to have
a cumulative impact (Vaughan, 2000; Walsh, 1999). With the occasional exception of “quantum change”
(Miller & C’de Baca, 2001), no matter what the method used, major enduring transformation usually requires long-term practice (Leonard & Murphy,1995; Mahoney, 1991; Murphy, 1992). The universal challenge is to transform peak experiences into plateau experiences, epiphanies into personality, states into stages, and altered states into altered traits, or, as I
believe Huston Smith once eloquently put it, “to transform flashes of illumination into abiding light.” - Entheogens: True or False? By Roger Walsh

The research on the value of ayahuasca for therapy is compelling. Its success with addiction, for example, is convincing. Did this healing occur from spirituality? Usually there is minimal spiritual guidance in the documented research. Energy is energy though, whether we can scientifically attribute the results to a shaman or neurotransmitters.

Ultimately, altered states are not required for spiritual growth.
"And yet in spirituality somehow, spirituality got associated with altered states of consciousness. You can alter your state of consciousness. Lots of the types of spirituality the people practice, they’ll alter your state of consciousness. You can chant God’s name for four or five hours, you’ll notice your consciousness starts to alter, change. You’ll feel different, things will look different. All sorts of things you can do to alter your state of consciousness.

But the funny thing is, enlightenment has nothing to do with any of that. Enlightenment is the unaltered state of consciousness. Consciousness needs no alteration to see that everything is One. Since everything IS One you don’t need the altered state of consciousness to perceive that everything is One. You need the altered state of consciousness to perceive that everything is actually more than One, like two or three or four or five or ten or a thousand." -Adyashanti

Possibly the thing that transcends age and Ayahuasca is the knowledge that both are transitory. Conditions that change. They are not right. Not wrong. Just part of the play. As long as we don't confuse the play with the truth.

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Comment by Dr. Paul Haider on August 28, 2014 at 2:38pm

True - and it has to be administered by a True Shaman from South America - The rights and rituals of the process is extremely important - I know one man that did the process and came back totally different - it changed him into a calm, collected, peaceful person, because he understood the bigger picture. But pop culture is latching onto this and making it something it is not... and that is not good. 

Many Blessings - Dr. Haider 

Comment by Gail Matheson, PhD on August 28, 2014 at 12:12pm
Hello Paul,
I believe in its effects. I am hopeful about its value in many ways. I agree there are many ways on the path. My current perspective - which evolves - is that we confuse the tool (Ayahuasca, yoga, hip hop dance!) with the thing we want to awaken to. Sometimes the play becomes the new addiction, or the new ego illusion. At least for me, and I do not presume to attest to a Right Way, or One Way.

Alternatively, when something becomes hot in spiritual practice, people move towards it from a Fear of Missing Out.
Comment by Dr. Paul Haider on August 28, 2014 at 12:02pm

I know of people who had amazing breakthroughs with Ayahuasca, but it's not for everyone. 

I agree it is play... but play is needed for some people.

There are as many ways to Enlightenment as there are people. 

Your Humble Servant - Dr. Haider 

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