Trance is an everyday experience. In those everyday moments the change in our state is gentle, so natural as to be invisible. When you day-dream, fantasize, space out, think deeply about a problem, experience an intense emotion, have sex, watch a movie or TV, sometimes at work, do and/or watch sport or exercise and do whatever hobby you experience altered states, no drugs or formal ritual involved. You are in trance, an alter state, whenever you become so absorbed in an activity your experience of time changes, feels shorter or longer, when you forget yourself as separate from the experience. You’re swimming at the shallow end to middle level of altered state of mind body.
Lots of mystics from different traditions talk about the feeling of separateness, the ego as an enemy to overcome. Different traditions use different names for this saboteur within. They don’t always explain what they mean by it. When they do explain it’s often in abstract and poetic language. So followers and practitioners fill that void of meaning and explanation with whatever they are uncomfortable with, they feel blocked by, whatever they feel is the source of wrong thinking about themselves and in others. These teachers and practitioners put themselves through all kinds of punishing intense disciplines to clear themselves the sins of their ego, to defeat that self-sabotage. They often offer disciplines which accentuate the sabotage. They are boring, physically difficult, if not impossible, and/or terrifying explorations of the most abject experiences we can have, each being different for each person, like submission or surrender, loneliness, stillness, poverty, pain, homelessness, death &etc.
I’m not saying it is bad to heroically develop your spiritual emotional strength, to heal yourself of trauma, by overcoming that which most terrifies you. But these achievements often have the opposite effect and affect on your attitudes to yourself, with your ego, growing it. So we see that the people who talk about dropping or getting past the ego are the most self centred and power oriented, getting into trouble because they lose perspective, becoming cult leaders, political and religious leaders who ask great sacrifice without sacrificing themselves.
To resist something is to give it strength, to confirm its existence. The ego, that feeling of separateness, will slips away like a shadow in the night if you simply do what you love, let yourself go, be absorbed into it without consideration simply because it feel natural. That absorption doesn’t get lost when there are obstacles if you accept them as par for the course, again as natural part of the process.
I’m reminded of the difference between the master tradesman and the apprentice. For the apprentice every achievement is a source of happy ecstasy, whilst mistakes or missteps are a sources of agonizing despair that threaten their sense of self, their value as a person. For the master tradesman the mistakes and obstacle are just interesting problems you solve and every achievement is a natural confirmation of trust, skill and knowledge. The apprentice’s journey is a storm, the master’s journey is a gentle sunny day with cool breezes.
When it comes to consciousness, self and identity there are those who are just happy to be taken on a journey so that it is simply the means by which they live comfortably. When they find themselves in a storm they simply seek out a captain and navigator, a master, for the ship of being who can get them through it. Others want to be the captain and navigator, be their own master, so they can steer their own way through and help others along their way. Seeking the insights that will give you the mastery of consciousness is the path I’m on. This group is for fellow travelers who want to decide when and how they step through the looking glass into the power of the mind body spirit so they can steer themselves and those they love or anyone else through pleasure cruises and storms with equal facility.