What is crucial is to develop a sense of The Witness. The Witness is a state of consciousness where one can observe the contents of one’s experience in a detached manner. In this state, mushroom eaters can observe their emotions, thoughts, and experiences without being attached to them. Only when one is in this state can one dispassionately observe the self’s process of reality construction. This is the key to using mushrooms as a spiritual tool.
To actually achieve the state of The Witness, it is perhaps best to think of mushrooms as plant teachers and as guides rather than as hallucinogens or psychedelics.
The mushrooms teach those who consume them. Seekers only need learn to listen to how they communicate and how they impart their lessons. This is the basis for using mushrooms with spiritual intent—being open to their lessons and their teachings. Spiritual seekers can always learn from their experience, no matter where they are or what conditions they find themselves in—and some would argue the more severe the conditions, the more opportunity for spiritual growth and learning. There are no limits or boundaries to spiritual experience or spiritual growth.
The key for spiritual seekers is facing their self and accepting what they find without judgment, illusion, or criticism. This is far easier said than done, and perfecting it could take a lifetime and beyond.
When using mushrooms as a spiritual mirror, one comes out of the experience with a deep and profound sense of realization and understanding about oneself and the world that is created by the mind. Most people spend their entire lives trying desperately not to look into the mirror, fearful of what they will find therein. To look in the spiritual mirror we must directly face all the negative things we don’t like and fully embrace all of our emotional wounds. We have to be willing to give up our protective masks. And most difficult of all, we have to be honest. Being honest with oneself is probably the most difficult of challenges because it means looking carefully and without judgment at who and what we are. Working with mushrooms as spiritual mirrors is not about a “good” or a “bad” trip. It is about work, perseverance, honesty, and a willingness to confront and embrace the darkness. That is the key to finding the light, peace, and acceptance that waits on the other side. To get there, seekers must be willing to work through the darkness. And by working through the darkness I do not mean banishing it. On the contrary, I mean embracing it and accepting it without judgment or emotional attachment, either positive or negative. If we do this work—whether with entheogens or any other spiritual path—it will change our life. When in the mushroom experience, and ideally, at all times of one’s life, spiritual seekers can adopt the perspective of “The Witness.” Most of the time we are so caught up in our illusions, projections, and self-deceptions that we take our experience, our emotions, and our state of mind as ourselves. We identify with the thoughts and emotions and think “This is me. This is how I experience myself and the world.” This is an illusion, at least in some very important respects. When one attains the state of The Witness, this illusory nature of everyday consciousness and our self-identifying constructs becomes immediately obvious.
Appearances should not be taken for reality.
This is the first, and perhaps most important, key to working with mushrooms to develop spiritual consciousness, and indeed, is generally crucial for any form of spiritual practice. This is the perspective of The Witness. It is quite a strange and wonderful state to be in. Imagine being able to fully explore all of your thoughts, emotions, illusions, criticisms, and judgments so that you can understand and appreciate them, but not be attached to them. The Witness sees and experiences, but does not become attached to anything either good or bad, positive or negative, beautiful or ugly. From the perspective of The Witness, one can take in anything and appreciate it for what it is without being caught in the trap of attachment or judgment. But to look through the eyes of The Witness is to look with eyes that have no fear. When we can look at our heart without attachment or judgment, we can learn from what we find there. And the lessons that we learn will be the key to the healing that will come. As spiritual seekers, we can heal our heart. We can clean it out. But to clean it out, we must be willing to look into it with honesty and integrity. The Witness is there to observe, experience, and learn. The Witness is not there to judge. If it were, it would be called “The Judge.”
The spiritual seekers who judge themselves will only become entrapped deeper in their own patterns and illusions.
Judging yourself is not the same as being honest with yourself.When we judge, we are working with our attachments of right and wrong, correct and incorrect. These are concepts that we create that do not necessary have any basis in reality. Most of our views of right and wrong are cultural, religious, and traditional creations that help us to function in society, but they are only concepts, some being more useful than others. They are not necessary truths. This is not to say that morality and ethics are irrelevant, for we need such structures to function as societies with some basic rules of behavior and human interaction, but when we judge ourselves with somewhat arbitrary rules, we are not necessary recognizing reality, but rather our constructions of reality. Therefore being honest with yourself is not about judging. It is about looking dispassionately at what you find so that you can learn from what you see, and if necessary, choose to change your pattern.