Ayahuasca and mystic states
Resemblance of an Ayahuasca experience to classical Buddhist "view" and meditation stage
Awareness reflects itself to itself through a giant surround mirror
How I experienced a mystic Ayahuasca experience like a traditional Buddhist description of the mind reflecting itself to itself
Tiredly looking into the bathroom mirror in the morning normally does not give one an "ontological shift", such that nothing seems to be like it was before. One does not leave the bathroom as a changed person,merely from looking into that mirror.
One also does normally not know that the mirror is used in Buddhist meditation teaching as a core metaphor for the "awakened mind". Here an example from "The Precious Treasury of the Expanse and Awakened Awareness":
"The mirror of Kun tu bZang Po... is an extraordinary place, the main place that the gods and humans, eternal boddhisatvas, mahasattvas and dakinis aspire to...This is the initial metaphor of all metaphors for pointing out" (T. S. Gyaltsen et al., 2022, p. 985)
Ken Wilber names "mirror mind" a "major stage of meditation (e.g., gross, subtle, very subtle, mirror mind, nondual)." (Wilber, 2021)
And here is a short description of my personal one-off mirror-experience in a psychedelic ceremony. It lasted only a few minutes but totally changed me.
On a sunny afternoon, on the grassy land of a Dutch barn that housed an Ayahuasca ceremony, without preparation I looked into a very real and infinitely large surround mirror. The mirror had replaced my normal visual field. Wherever I looked, it was a reflection. The reflection had the characteristic to be somehow alive and scintillant. What did I see in the mirror? I saw myself, I saw the entire content of my consciousness. Everything I saw and experienced was "me". "My" consciousness was reflected in that mirror. But there was no real "me" as individual Self. There was one consciousness or awareness on both sides. Consciousness knew with absolute certainty, awe and gratitude that there was nothing except consciousness. There was no more separation between what was seeing and what was seen.
This visceral deep experience had such a cognitive and emotional impact, that I thought about it for years. Eventually I "landed" in a Mahamudra meditation retreat, where something similar happened. Perhaps I was primed!
Meditation and and psychedelic mystic experiences can share features
In Mahamudra, such perception is variously described a mirror mind, reflective mind or similar. In essence, they describe "awareness being aware of awareness". There are many metaphors that describe this moment of re-cognition. Here a selection:
Mother meeting a long absent son
Two people from the same country meeting in another country and immediately recognising each other
A mirror held up to a mirror to recognise itself
A man and a women who love each other, meeting in secret to make love.
These are all metaphors for the mind awakening to itself, that is, becoming truly aware of itself as the source.
Cognitively and emotionally, I was changed forever through these few minutes, and this "taste of something" (Shinzen Young) brought me to Buddhism. It provided the closest descriptions of my experience that I could find anywhere.
My experience as "subject-object nonduality experience"
Today, there is wide acceptance that meditation and psychedelics go well together. Research have grouped them. For example, my experience has been classified as a form of "Subject-Object non-duality" (Burns 2022), the experience of non-duality between - in my case - myself as perceiver and all perceptual phenomena (like "walking within one´s mind"). This is most famous in the Zen tradition; according to Burns, it has the most benefits and the fewest risks.
Softening and extension of care; extends the bubble of self-hood
A certain kind of lightness and bounce; the rigidity around the self loosens.
Main risks (rare)
Leaning into gentle allowance (e.g. alcoholics). Antidote: collective austerity (e.g. Zen monastery). Daily habits.
Note: the other experience types are object-object and subject-subject non-duality.
Views and perspectives as core of meditation
Ayahuasca usually provides one with a huge variety of experiences and insights, often several of them in the course of a few hours. They can be emotional, physical, intellectual, creative, or ontological. The Israeli cognitive scientist Bennie Shannon in his Oxford Press book "The Antipodes of the Mind" has gone into great detail to classify the types.
The particular Ayahuasca experience of this day resulted in a sudden shift of the perspective from which I, or what I had changed to, perceived the world.
In Mahamudra meditation, some other terms for such a perspective are "view", "base of operation" (D. P. Brown & Thurman, 2006), "perspective" or "perceptual position", or "way of looking" (Rob Burbea 2015).
For example, a very famous way to induce such a shift of view in Mahamudra teaching is via the metaphor of ocean and wave: through pointing out instructions, the student is guided to "become the ocean watching its own waves" as an experience of non-duality of mind and objects, of seer, seen and seeing.
Daniel P Brown (D. P. Brown, 1981) in his dissertation on traditional Mahamudra meditation stages says that
the yogi is trained, from the start, to see reality not as a collection of external objects, but as an inner reflection, as mirror of mind itself.
Learning to take this perspective can take anything from a a few hours for the very gifted student to a lifetime or never, depending on the student and luck. Ayahuasca gave me a bit of luck, I suppose, because it happened out of the blue in seconds.
In the years following this Ayahuasca / Buddhist mirror experience I had discovered meditation in 2019 through a podcast by Peter Attia. By accident I found that the mirror is a key metaphor for the mind in Mahamudra and Dzog Chen.
Through a further mere accident I became aware of the work and the Mahamudra/ Dzog Chen retreats of the recently deceased Daniel P Brown, and I signed up for a six-day online retreat during the Covid lockdown period. There, on the fifth day, I had again a mystical experience that was very close to the Ayahuasca experience. I have described it here. Eventually I found in the literature of Tibetan Buddhism, Mahamudra and Dzog Chen to be the closest approximation to that particular psychedelic state.
Is my experience validated by a Buddhist teacher?
I had asked myself, whether any recognised Buddhist teacher (ie a a true authority) would validate my I experience as a genuine meditation experience. I used an opportunity to ask the late Culadasa on his Patreon group. Culadasa is the author of the famous, neurologically founded meditation guide "The Mind Illuminated". Here it is.
Please believe me that I do not show this as proof of an "attainment". It is intended as evidence for what I say.
https://youtu.be/a8XJrNx7iN0?t=1920 (full length hearing recommended)
I also got a verbal personal feedback by a quite well known Tibetan Geshe who read my blog post (I am not linking to him here, as I did not ask him for permission to quote).
Please do not think that now I believe myself to be an awakened person! I just had an experience. This is also stressed in the reply by Culadasa.
Neither have I become a Buddhist of any sort. But I admire and take to heart and practice many of their subtle and powerful teachings on the mind and the heart. Buddhism is not a religion for me, but an expansion of consciousness through self-exploration, just like psychedelics.
My intention: to provide a detailed phenomenological description and compare to Buddhist scripture
Such similarity between certain meditative and psychedelic experiences has often been described. But I have not seen a detailed phenomenology and comparison of a singular classical Buddhist meditation experience. Instead, most descriptions at a high level, such as a feeling of one-ness, sacredness, or timelessness.
All of these characterised my experience. But I wanted to provide more detailed and granular phenomenological information than that, and to compare it to descriptions in Buddhist scriptures and academic writings.
This post is, in a way, a phenomenological addition to Tim Ferris´question to Henry Shukman how one can compare the Zen "Kensho" awakening experience with a similar Ayahuasca experience.
For the comparison, I relied primarily on material made available through Daniel P Brown as new translations. You see a selection of them below.
Main Characteristics of the Experience
The experience unfolded in two stages: first, as an immensely strong appearance of the subjective personalised , localised perception of "I AM" .
And then the mirror experience occured where there was no more
localised Self , but a generalised awareness of awareness itself.
The following characteristics were of particular significance. I do not claim completeness of description - it still occasionally unfolds in my memory.
Stage 1: "I AM"
The core experience, described in the subsequent sections, was preceded by another kind of experience:
I had the experience of "I AM" as singular, powerful, completely obvious, all-pervasive feeling of existing. While I was having it, I was amazed that during my entire life I had never truly felt to BE. The comparison that came to mind was that of the bright sun as opposed to a dim lightbulb. I had spent my life as a lightbulb. Now I experienced myself as the sun. It was exhilarating and wondrous.
This feeling, of which I was fully aware in metacognitive awareness, left me with appreciative wonder, developed in the course of a few minutes. During this time, wherever I looked in the room where I was, I saw two bright circles of light seemingly projected by my eyes on any surface I looked at, a typical Ayahuasca experience.
A common effect is that part of the visual field being focally Illuminated. Typically, it is as if a flashlight were illuminating it" (Benny Shannon, p275) . Light phenomena also appear in deep meditation.Shinzen Young discusses them in a podcast touching on the energetic phenomena experienced in meditation.
As a more poetic description for this light phenomenon, I liked a passage from A. H. Almaas book "Keys to the Enneagram". He equates the phenomenon of appearing light to a "point of presence", and references Nisargadatta Maharaj - who is the author of talks collected in his major work, called "I Am That".
This experience still reflected a subject, an experiencing separate Self. In terms of Daniel B Brown´s "stages of meditation", it was not a non-dual experience. It was still "localised". The next stage would go further, although it was still an experience with an experienc-ER, and as such far from non-dual as Stephen Wolinsky would point out.
Stage 2: The mirror experience
Sudden onset of the mirror mind phenomenon
When, now with the Ayahuasca brew fully active, I left the communal hall to go outside into the surrounding nature, my perception was suddenly transformed.
My perception instantaneously switched into a wide, immense panoramic view, where I was looking into a giant surround mirror that reflected "me". This "me" was not the usual feeling of self, but one of all-encompassing awareness.
This sudden onset very much resembled James Austin´s Kensho experience that he describes in "Zen and the Brain" :
With no transition, it is all complete. Every detail of the scene in front is registered, integrated, and found wholly satisfying, all in itself (p 537).
Austin's description of the Kensho onset aligns with Daniel P Brown description of the "crossover" to enlightenment.
Contrary to the slow ripening of meditative experience throughout the preliminary and essential stages of meditation, and even the gradual ripening of awakened wisdom during extraordinary meditation, crossing over to enlightenment is an immediate and compelling event, wherein the mental continuum undergoes a series of fundamental and enduring reorganizations. (PoW, p. 500)
I believe that this particular element of the psychedelic experience is a key to understanding Mahamudra meditation. It gave me a way to grasp the descriptions of such states in the meditation literature at a fundamental level. Evan after 3 years I am still trying to untie the experience.
What was my personal experience? In short, again:
A giant universal surround mirror had folded up before me / in me, containing my entire visual field. It resembled exactly what Daniel P Brown compares to "watching a movie projected onto a movie screen" in his commentary how the meditative "visions" arise (Tapihritsa, Six Lamps, p. 16)
The following quotes are a mix of original quotes and quotes by secondary literature mostly by Daniel P Brown and Keith Dowman. They all focus on the "mirror" phenomenon.
Daniel P Brown describes a key subset of the Six Lamps meditation instructions:
"The fluid eye lamp instructions open the experience of seeing all seeming external appearances as the pure mirror of awakened mind".
I also found a typically poetic description of the mirror in "The Precious Treasury" (TPT):
The metaphor for the essence, nature and compassion is like a bright mirror. What is symbolised by these three is that your own essence is inseparable from the crystal, you become inseparable from the heart-essence of emptiness and awakened awareness, and you know the one great interconnected sphere of ultimate reality (TPT, p 985)
In fact, seeing the world like a mirror is systematically trained in Mahamudra meditation. Daniel P Brown describes it like this in his 1981 dissertation:
Recall that representation is an act by which the mind takes the shape of or creates the pattern for what it perceives. Advanced Yogis can turn this awareness back on itself. Though they gaze upon an outer object, they perceive only its inner reflected image. At a certain stage of proficiency, all yogis are instructed to dismiss the outer image and focus only upon the reflected image" (Mahamudra Meditation Stages, p. 256)
There are specific meditative techniques to practice this mode of representation. I will give one example. It is a Sam Harris meditation, made slightly more efficient with an instruction by Daniel P Brown). It is a 4 step mediation.
(!) Open your eyes and look into the space before you. Take in everything at once, as a giant visual panorama. (2) As you breathe in, imagine pulling inwards this panorama with the breath, so that it becomes an appearance, a reflected image on the inside of your mind. (3) Now get a sense of your Self. Clearly get a sense of how it feels, now, to be you. For me, it would be my "Till-Ness" .(4) Now, as you breathe out, continuing to stare into space, imagine to mix your Self, your (for me) Till-ness with the wide space in front of you.
And this is from Keith Dowman's translation of Dzogchen Semdzins:
Do not look with your eyes, but be conscious of the screen upon which the object is projected. Do not judge, do not take a stand for or against anything, but be open to all .
And, from Keith Dowman´s "The Flight of the Garuda".
“The emptiness of the mind is not just a blank nothingness, for without doubt it is the primal awareness of intrinsic awareness... Without doubt all appearances whatsoever are our own manifestation. All phenomena, whatsoever manifests, is like reflection in a mirror...The thought-free lucidity is the mirror-like wisdom"
In the classical work The Royal Seal of Mahamudra the mirror is mentioned when a distinction between experience and realization (=awakening) is explained.
In one taste, to think “It seems my body, outer phenomena, and my mind are without true nature” is an experience. To realize clearly that outer phenomena are like reflections in a mirror, and that although they appear as diverse they are one, is realization (page 225)
The mirror-like quality of perception can also be trained for the ear, as described in the "Semdzin of ear consciousness", as described by Keith Dowman:
We fixate our attention in the ear but not upon any single sound, allowing whatever sound arising to pass without judgement or projection as in non-judgmental or mirror-like listening. The cognizance that vividly realizes that it lacks true nature is realization.
I have not the slightest doubt, that the mirror-like quality of perception I experienced lies at the base of these instructional or mystic text passages.
As a modern reference: the Buddhist metaphor of "the mirror held up against itself" is reflected in one scene of the movie "Inception". The "architect" positions a mirror in front of a mirror.
A single non-dual field of awareness
Another description of this mirror-like nature of awareness was presented to me in a Mahamudra retreat by Daniel P Brown. This description does not focus on the actual mirror experience but on the "non-duality" of experience.
Here, the instruction to create an inner "view" or "basis of operation" included the phrase
"the space, the objects and in the space and the knowing of the objects - one single non-dual field of awareness...one crystal clear field of awareness".
This formulation is perhaps an equally valid description of my experience. (from Level 1 retreat, Pointing Out the Great Way). However, with my current knowledge, I believe that these instructions go beyond the mirror experience: in the mirror experience, there was still a viewing entity, even if it was not the"small self".
Visual quality: Luminosity
The mirror experience also had a particular visual quality.
The visual field had changed into being energetically loaded, scintillating, brilliant luminosity as in radiating in and out of itself.
I recently came across recent neurological research mentioned in a podcast with Shinzen Young. Research confirms that indeed our sensory perception becomes clearer when the ego/self constituting processes are reduced, eg through meditative states.
We literally "see more pixels" (this is a quote) because the conceptual mind and the ego-sense get out of the way. This phenomenon had already been described by Aldous Huxley in "The Doors of Perception" as result of taking mescaline. But Huxley at the time could not explain it neurologically.
The following is a historical excursion: Luminosity is a phenomenon that also characterised Plato's world. As described by Huxley, "in the Phaedro Socrates speaks about a world in which everything shines.. The very stones of the road and on the mountains have the quality of precious stones... A luminous other world" (quoted in Shannon p 391f)
However, it is interesting to read Tashi Namgyal on this phenomenon. He warns to take the experience too literal.
"The uneducated presume that the clarity of aspect of any type of meditative experience is what is meant by natural luminosity and think that what is called luminosity is something that illuminates, like sunlight. They are very mistaken" (Moonbeams of Mahamudra, pos 340).
In this view, luminosity is not a physical characteristic of mind, otherwise the mind would have characteristics (which is not the case in this philosophy of mind). In his view, "luminosity" is more of a metaphor for the original purity of mind.
Personally, I cannot agree to it, since the luminosity was a distinct perceptual attribute of this moment that characterised psychedelic experience and deep meditative perception. Illumination phenomena occur in both of these extraordinary states.
Dissolution of Experience into Mind Moments
The mirror experience had another quality that points to the concept of "mind moments" and "arising and passing away".
The experience was no longer continuous. Instead, it seemed to be decomposed into very many very short moments of experience which arose and immediately were replaced by another moment.
This corresponded to the mind moments in the experience of advanced meditators, as described in Culadasa´s "The Mind Illuminated" and by Daniel P Brown.
This experience might point to a non-linearity of time, however, it may also be taken as a processing mechanism of the mind. The latter is Dr Brown's approach
Daniel P Brown (in "Mahamudra Meditation Stages") gives this phenomenon an extensive discussion by comparing it to the perceptual experiments with tachistoscopes in the 1960s.
In essence, he sees similarities in the trained yogi's granular perception of mind moments with the acquired skill of tachistoscopic test subjects over many training sessions.
"The stage of arising and passing away is described in terms of very fleeting but discrete moments. These moments pass so quickly that this state of consciousness is said to be the experiential basis of the Doctrine of Impermanence" (p 615).
Dissolution of Experience into Strings / Particles
[Note August 2021: the following interpretation of "thiglets" needs to be revised, following my reading of "Mahamudra Meditation-Stages by D. Brown]
It may also correspond to the transformation of the perceived world into smaller and smaller bubbles / grains, or other patterns, called thiglet in Tibetan meditation.
The visual field seemed to me to consist of something a water fountain. It appeared like an infinite set of upwards moving filaments, composed of very small individual particles.
Recently I came across a description of this type of visual experience in "The Six Lamps".
..the heart essence of awakened awareness, mere grains of energy drops, like filaments of energy drops, or silver-white threads, or filaments of white silk. They stay like a string of very small grains. In the midst of these energy drops the coarse types of enlightened Buddha-bodies [TG: I assume he means the recognizable shapes of objects] are just projections and there they reside in a subtle way. At that times these visions are like a waterfall gushing from a mountain, or like drops of water not staying but scattering or coming together. They arise and cease, scatter and come together, move and become agitated" (p.18)
For me, the experience was not of a "waterfall gushing from a mountain" (downwards movement), but of a a water fountain (upwards movements). The principle is the same.
Daniel P Brown references "unusual perceptual experiences" in "Pointing Out the Great Way". In his quotes of Jampel Pawo, they are associated as energy currents entering the central channel (pos 580). For example, the energy current "fire" is described as "Alternating emanation and cessation". This corresponds to my experience of very rapid occurence and disappearance. The energy current "space" is described as "As if passing through a sieve or grating". This corresponds to my experience of moving filaments (when one lets water run through a sieve, it appears initially as individual water filaments).
For science fiction fans: I guess there is an allusion to this phenomenon in the downward running filaments of number strings on the monitor-screens just before the transitions in the movie "Matrix".
The term Matrix itself is an allusion: it is one of the standard terms in Tibetan Buddhism for the ground of awareness-space.
Solitary Realizers reduce to the smallest particles all phenomena that appear to have substantial characteristics. Through that, they come to see directly that nothing really substantially exists as objects of mind" (TPT, p 933)
The Feeling-Tone of Sacredness
The experience had a sacred character.
It was the most intense awareness of awareness, and I was filled with sacredness, awe, gratitude and timelessness.
Those perceptions came naturally into my mind at the time, they were very far from any spiritual or religious reference which I never had had.
Daniel P Brown, in the "Buddha at the Gas Pump" podcast, mentions the sense of sacredness in the context of discussing the concept of "Self". In Mahamudra medition, there is no intent to eliminate the sense of Self (as in "egolessness"). Instead, the Self, like any other appearance, is experienced - but it is experienced as empty at any moment.
In this way, the sense of Self and the sense of the all-encompassing sacredness can co-exist: the Self does not disturb the sacredness.
In my experience, indeed there was a distinct sense of being a Self. It was not an undistinguished "one-ness" where the Self was entirely gone.
I have long thought about this: would one not expect the complete disappearance of the individual Self in a mystic experience?
But according to Tibetan Buddhism, I then learned, that is not so. The higher stages of meditation allow the Self to persist. In terms of the ocean and wave metaphor, there is no conflict between being the wave and being the ocean: they are simultaneous.
Regarding the experience of sacredness, Daniel P Brown sais that the sense of Self can come and go, and it does not interfere with your perception of the sacred world "
The Feeling-Tone of Coming Home
The sense of "coming home" is is another experience that may occur in deep meditation.
The entire experience was suffused with the feeling-tone of "coming home" after a very long absence, measured in eternities. It was a very deep feeling of recognition, of having been here before.
Standard Buddhist metaphors describe this moment of re-cognition. There are several metaphors with the theme of recognition, remembering and coming home. However, My favorite one is the comparison to sex.
This singular and unique state of awareness can only be found within oneself. If that is the case, then, when one recognises one's essence, everything is brought together in a single moment within which a cognition is present that does not go beyond the knowledge of that singular essence, wich is rig pa. This is like a man and a woman who are in love and who meet together secretly in solitude in order to make love" (Garab Dorje)
Use of the Eyes: Stabilising the View by not Moving the Eyes
For some reason I knew that to hold this view I should not move the eyes and look at a particular object, but slowly turn my head and body to take in the spectacular scene. I found later that not moving the eyes is a meditative technique.
The practitioner relies upon this sense-perceiver when doing the gaze in such a way that the eye organ doesn’t move, and in turn the sense-perceiver and even the many [usual] movements of the mind-perceiver don’t [move either]. (Moonbeams of Mahamudra, quoted in Pointing Out the Great Way p.237)
Another quote is in "The Precious Treasury of the Expanse and Awakened Awareness" ).
When the visions of primordial wisdom arise, they do not stay in one place, but run to the right, left, up, down, etc. After a while, they won´t come at the time of practicing with the eyes of the mind directly focusing on it. Therefore, the manner of gazing is gently guided to the corner of the eyes [peripheral vision... The mind and eyes do not chase after the visions" (TPT 923)
Daniel P Brown in "Mahamudra Meditation Stages" states that
The eyes are not allowed to make any gross or subtle movements (MMS, p.257)'
The stillness of the eyes was probably a way to reduce or suppress the process that's called particularizing in Tibetan Buddhism. That's the very basic process by which the mind isolates / constitutes individual aspects from the field of awareness and begins the process of conceptualising. It's a very fast pre-conscious process.
During my 4 years of Ayahuasca experience, I had never had such an ontological shift of perspective. All prior experiences, emotional and insightful, were deep, significant and had lasting effects. But none of them changed my fundamental world perspective as much as this experience.
Comparison: psychedelic and meditative mystic experience
It should be clear from the descriptions, that there was essentially no difference in the phenomenology of this particular Ayahuasca experience and "classical" Buddhist deep meditation mind states as described in classical mahamudra litererature.
Current academic researcheg at Johns Hopkins University by Roland Griffith confirms my subjective conclusion. Many participants of a study reported the same type of experience.
A word of modesty
I am aware that my experiences are no way new to the world. They have been made and have been described in various form for thousands of years. But of course, they are significant to me at an intellectual and an emotional level.
And hopefully they are useful to create curiosity and interest regarding meditation as a way to experience very deep altered states.
"On Having No Head"
The following quote from D.E. Harding´s "On Having No Head" touches on the essence of the the Ayahuasca experience.
In numerous texts we are told how the enlightened man as if by magic engulfs rivers, mountains, seas, the great world itself, reducing them all to the Void here, to nothing at all; and then, out of this Void, creates rivers, mountains, seas, the great world itself. Without the slightest discomfort, he swallows all the water in the West River, and spews it up again. He takes in and abolishes all things, produces all things. He sees the universe as nothing else than the outflowing of his own profound Nature, which in itself remains unstained, absolutely transparent. Now he is restored to himself as he really is: as the very heart of existence, from which all being is made manifest. In brief, he is deified. Established at the unique Source, he cries: “I am the Centre, I am the Universe, I am the Creator!” (D.T. Suzuki) Or: “I am the cause of mine own self and all things!” (Eckhart) In the vivid language of Zen, the mangy cur has become the golden-haired lion roaring in the desert, spontaneous, free, energetic, magnificently self-sufficient, and alone. Arrived Home at last, he finds no room for two. Our own Traherne once more echoes Eastern masters when he exclaims: “The streets were mine, the temple was mine, the people were mine, their clothes and gold and silver were mine, as much as their sparkling eyes, fair skins and ruddy faces. The skies were mine, and so were the sun and moon and stars, and all the World was mine: and I the only spectator and enjoyer of it.”
Podcast Buddhist Geeks, episode 17.12.2015 , on "psychedelic experiences" in meditation
Michael M Taft (Psychedelics, Consciousness Hacking)
Taft, C. [Consciousness Hacking]. (2018, October 28). Psychedelics, Technology, and the Future of Meditation w/ Michael Taft and Vincent Horn [Video]. YouTube.
Guru Viking Podcast #142
Viking, G. [Guru Viking Podcast]. (2022, March 25). Ep142: Science & the Enlightened Self - Dr Jud Brewer, Shinzen Young, C Fasano, & Dr Sanguinetti [Video]. YouTube.
A.H. Almaas (Enneagram)
Almaas, A. H., Hudson, R., & Maitri, S. (2021). Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type. Shambhala.
James H Austin (Zen and the Brain)
Austin, J. H. (1998). Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness. MIT Press.
Austin, J. H. (1998). Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness. MIT Press.
A very extensive dissection of a kensho experience by a cognitive scientist. This is a massive science book written by a cognitive scientist having had several extraordinary state experiences through meditation. Warning: he uses an unkniwn type of object called "floppy disk" as symbol for storage... meaning the book describes and experience made in 1974 and was written well before the current research wave. But it is still worthwhile reading. It was the Winner of the Scientific and Medical Network Book Prize for 1998
James H Austin quotes a shorter list of criteria for a mystical experience.
"A strong confidence in the reality or objectivity of the experience; a conviction that it some reveals "the truth"
Ineffability [the impossibility to adequately communicate it]
An unconventional, qualitatively different mode of intellectual perception. During it, conventional intellectual operations are suspended or substituted for
A paradoxical sense that opposites, of various kinds, coincide [the basis of "non-duality"]
An extraordinarily strong affective tone. This might include various kinds of emotion which coincide in unusual combinations, such as sublime joy"
Meditation and psychedelics
Daniel P Brown (Pointing)
Brown, D. P., & Thurman, R. (2006). Pointing Out the Great Way: The Stages of Meditation in the Mahamudra Tradition (Annotated ed.). Wisdom Publications.
Daniel P Brown (Mahamudra)
Brown, D. P. (1981). Mahamudra Meditation-Stages and Contemporary Cognitive Psychology (Dissertation). http://abhidharma.ru/A/Tantra/Content/Raznoe/0028.pdf
This dissertation is a free download. It is a massive, highly technical volume that nevertheless gives an unparallelled insight into the education of a yogi. It draws on the knowledge of cognitive science as of the late 1970s, so it is not the newest in this regard. As compensation, Daniel P Brown gives some insight into the experiments with tachiscopy. to which he still referred in his retreats in 2021. The Universits of Chicago library entry: https://catalog.lib.uchicago.edu/vufind/Record/470630
Daniel P Brown (Buddha Gaspump)
Brown, B. A. T. G. P. [Buddha at the Gaspump Interview]. (2021, January 12). Daniel P. Brown - Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1438&v=YiDsgkOjsEA&feature=youtu.be
Rob Burbea (Seeing)
Burbea, R. (2015). Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising (English Edition) [E-book]. Hermes Amāra. https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00SI7PQD8
This book is praised by Michael Taft, one of the best contemporary teachers, in is "Best meditation books of 2020" https://deconstructingyourself.com/best-meditation-books-2020.html
LSD Madness and Healing
Culadasa (Mind Illuminated)
Yates (Culadasa), J., & Immergut, M. (2017). The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness. Hay House Uk.