Today we’re going to riff on dying.
And since we only get one shot at that in our lives... we’re going to talk about a little known discipline:
Where we actually get to train for that momentous moment ahead of time.
Because at their core, all experiences of Ecstasis (a broader category including Flow) are death practices in some way.
Ex-stasis, literally means to step outside oneself.
That shift from being stuck behind our eyes and in our stories, to glimpsing something timeless, and being flooded with sensation, or information, or inspiration.
It requires us to kill our waking inner critic. Every time. As Irving said, there simply isn't room for our Doubting Thomas and that which we seek.
We wrote about Dean Potter and the high he got free climbing and wingsuiting. Sadly, extreme sports get you there, but the "death practice" part isn't a metaphor. It's physical and terminal.
In mystic and meditative lineages, they speak of "dying to the small self" so that a higher, truer self can come online.
It's a metaphor, but not one without real suffering attached (AKA, the dark night of the soul).
Johns Hopkins researcher Stan Grof coined the term "ego-death" for the recurring experience of psychedelic study subjects losing their biographical reference points.
If you're lucky, that rip-the-bandaid moment comes quick and then launches you to glory.
For some though, it's slow, excruciating and utterly terrifying.
The French call the moment after a particularly wham-bam orgasm as La Petite Mort, or, "the Little Death."
Side note: Rick Doblin from MAPS recently identified that moment as the closest neurochemical state to MDMA therapy...
To be sure, a rocking zesty-sesh would seem to be one of the friendlier options in this rundown, but it's also a profoundly vulnerable and impressionable state, best shared only with lovers you trust impeccably.
We’ve previously shared MacArthur genius Wendell Berry's poem that ends with the phrase "Practice Resurrection." And it couldn't be more true for the ecstatic path, or timely as a reflection this time of year.
What if we, skillfully using the host of tools and techniques that we have at our disposal these days, cultivate dying ecstatically.
Harnessing our precious moments of Selflessness to die to our stories, our preferences, our pleasure, our pain, our seeking, our avoiding, our rightness and even our righteousness.
Urging ourselves and each other forward, by the edge of a compassionate blade.
Towards our dying. Towards our resurrection.
Jamie and the FGP Team