A lot of spiritual experiences give you a high. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but too often the sign gets mistaken for the destination
I’m not only talking the high from drugs some people take for spiritual or faux-spiritual reasons. It’s obvious that appropriately used substances, employed by informed people under proper tutelage, can lead to deep spiritual insights. It’s also obvious you can have such deep experiences from breathing, visualization, energy work, etc. These are deep, strange, powerful and also can get you high as hell for that moment.
And that high is not necessarily a bad thing. That is a sign that you’ve gotten something going on. You feel that high of your body relaxing in Quigong, the self-yet-not moment of cyclical breathing, or the psychedelic top-of-your-head-blows off of a drug or visualization trip. Something happened, and you have a powerful experience and often see and feel life differently.
However, I think a lot of people see the high as the goal. They want the sign of enlightenment, of achievement, of spiritual fulfillment – and to them that’s the rush of the therapeutic relaxation or some stunning vision. They want to own it by owning an experience.
I think this is why we see so many people falling under the spells of gurus, grifters, endless substance experiments, and shifting trends. They’re chasing the high or looking for a new one so they can once again “hold” that sense of spiritual enlightenment. But it’s just a senstion.
Spiritual highs are just roadsigns you’re onto something (and, in some cases, just on something even if it’s your own neurotransmitters). Something in your head and personality just shifted, got blown apart, or made connections. But the question is what you do next.
Plenty of seekers’ next step should be to ask if they just deluded themselves. But for many they had some authentic insight and that’s a chance to grow, not just find a new way to get high again.
What did you learn? How can you apply it? Does it help you understand yourself, others, and your teachers better. Where does the spiritual experience send you next? I mean even if you go to conventional therapy, good job, you learned something.
Spiritual experience should help you grow, not become a junkie.
I’m reminded of the famous Ten Ox-Herding pictures of Zen. They’re a lovely metaphor for meditation and spiritual practice based around seeking and taming a recalcitrant bovine. Eventually the trainer – the seeker – returns to society after many insights, helping others. He doesn’t leave the world or stay in his seeking, but returns a better person.
If your spiritual highs don’t help you become better, if they don’t someday lead you back to the bustling marketplace and busy town, then pause and take stock of yourself.