We all seek out “real life” experiences—cathartic moments of release that break through our conditioning and allow us to feel the rapture of being alive—but sadly, many of us have trouble getting there.
Why is it so hard for us to feel the depth and power of our immediate experience?
Well, because we get bogged down man! This sh*t is hard as hell. Our ego is always whirling and twirling, getting attached to this and being hurt by that, always living in anticipation of the next big thing as we move through a world where we all live under the mutual illusion that “things” are all that matter.
No wonder it’s so difficult to fully meet the present moment, because we’re always neurotically moving toward what might come next, out of fear and a perpetual sense of lack.
I am speaking from personal experience, as I get caught up in this roundabout cycle of inner chaos myself. I’ll be working on my computer, having a dandy ol’ time—and all of a sudden, I’ll be afraid that my computer will break. There’s no sign that there’s anything wrong with my computer (and even if there was I am totally in a position to get by without one for a little while), yet my mind is warning me of an impending “problem” and I am reacting as though it’s real. There’s nothing real about any of it.
It’s hard to have embodied experiences, when we are always thinking. This has been Eckhart Tolle’s great understanding, as well as many other spiritual teachers. Thinking is the biggest addiction in the world, because an addiction is something we can’t stop doing that often harms us.
Thinking is not an addiction, you say? Hmm. Try to stop doing it then. Oh, wait—not so easy, is it? Oh, it’s just a part of life, you say? Well, that’s just another thought then, isn’t it? Yup, alright…moving on.
I’ve been reading Joseph Campbell lately—the incredible author and mythologist—and he talks a great deal about the archetypal roots of mystical experiences and how these types of experiences have been the backbone of many cultures in the past.
In an interview he was asked how ordinary people that are not mystics or poets or artists by trade can have the kinds of mystical and transcendent experiences that he describes.
His answer is classic:
“I’ll tell you a way, a very nice way. Sit in a room and read—and read, and read, and read. Read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time. This realization of life can be a constant realization in your living. When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything they have done. Don’t say, ‘Oh I want to know what so and so did’—and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give to you. And then you can go read what they have read. And the world opens up in a way that is consistent with a certain point of view. But when you go from one author to another, you may be able to tell us the date when each wrote such and such a poem—but they haven’t really said anything to you.” (From his book, The Power Of Myth.)
In my own experience, I know it’s hard to motivate myself to read a lot. I always come up with an excuse why something else is more important, but it’s really not. If you don’t have time to read for 30 minutes a day, then you have absolutely no life. It’s just not a good enough excuse.
There is nothing more beneficial to the soul than reading great books that speak to our essential nature as human beings. We are only robbing ourselves of being more connected to life and having a deeper understanding of who and what we are. For godsakes, that’s worth 30 minutes of our time each day!
Reading is like a portal to accessing deeper experiences. It is both meditative and contemplative, hitting that sweet spot between thought and no-thought. I know that many of us are busy, or at least convince ourselves that we’re busy, but it adds a whole other dimension to our lives when we take the time to read books that make our souls dance.
Read Joseph Campbell. Read Carl Jung. Read Eckhart Tolle. There is so much wisdom out there, just waiting for us to tap into it.
Let’s stop beating around the bush—and instead, let’s take Joseph Campbell’s eloquent advice and pick up a book. Go to a bookstore (or a library!) and find something that lifts your heart. Stay there for a few hours and get comfortable. Read half a book on a lazy Sunday, then buy it (or borrow it), and read the rest at home.
We can tune in to the knowledge and depth of the highest frequency thinkers (or non-thinkers) that have ever lived, and I believe reading is a pathway to having more direct and earth-shattering experiences.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Caitlin Oriel