This weeks blog is on Peeling Away Different Layers of Consciousness Leading to Self-Awareness, Peak Experiences or Moments of Transcendence
"Let us remember one thing about the soul. It is like a wild animal; tough, self sufficient, resilient but also exceedingly shy. ... also that if we go crashing through the woods, screaming and yelling for wild animals to come out they will evade us all day and night. We cannot beat the bushes and yell at each other if we expect this precious inwardness to emerge. But if you are willing to go into the woods and sit quietly at the base of a tree, that wild animal will, after a few hours, reveal itself to you. And out of the corner of your eye you will glimpse something of that wild preciousness... " Parker Palmer
Peeling Away Different Layers of Consciousness Leading to Self-Awareness, Peak Experiences or Moments of Transcendence
Solitude or periods of silence are uniquely powerful in wilderness. There is something special about relating one to one with our self and the classical vision quest is always a solo event. It could be that this is the last step to subverting the ego while in wilderness. When we are on our own we can let go. In order to find our Self (higher) we must lose our self (ego,) or as Christ said, "He that loses himself will find himself." It is difficult to let go completely when in the company of others, and no matter how harmonious the group, we still are bound by social interaction and by some need to protect our delicate egos.
For those of us who use wilderness as spiritual practice the process is like peeling away the layers of a proverbial onion to get to its core, with the Self being at the center of the onion. At the beginning of the trail there are all sorts of layers of behavioral garbage and habituated toxicity surrounding the true Self and it takes time to unravel these to reach the center of our being. Wilderness researchers have said that five days seems to be a minimum in which to do this. If one thinks of it in the context of the great sages, 40 days and 40 nights might be so profound as to forge a connection with the true Self that is sufficient for enlightenment. Solitude alone may have a lot to do with this, and one cannot help but feel certain people of great stature come out of long periods of confinement with a clearer vision of themselves and the problems around them. Naturally one has to be quite far along the spiritual path before undertaking anything as formidable as a 40 day solo. I have found that wilderness rapture is common in all inner-directed journeys after a period of five days. For some it can occur in less and for a few it may not occur with more. If preliminary inner work is done before the trip it frequently occurs after only two days.
The analogy between the layers of an onion and the five energy sheaths described by the Yogi, Patanjali, in ancient yoga texts is an apt one. This will be the subject of next weeks blog.